What’s Going On With The Arizona Coyotes? | Tony X
Tony X, @soIoucity, takes a look at the current situation that the Arizona Coyotes find themselves in and how serious the case is.
The Arizona Coyotes just finished the 2022-23 season with a record of 28-40-14 with 70 points on the season, good enough to be 7th in the Central Division. The Coyotes have missed the playoffs in 10 of the last 11 seasons, and this past season it was in front of 4,600 fans at the Mullett Arena, owned by Arizona State University. How did this happen?
The Coyotes were originally in the 17,000 seat Desert Diamond Arena, formerly named Gila River Arena, from the 03-04 season until 2021. In August of 2021, both the city of Glendale and the arena decided to not renew their operating agreement with the Coyotes past the 2021-22 season. This didn’t come to a random abrupt ending either; there were issues dating back to 2009 when the team went bankrupt, and the NHL was actually paying the bills of the team and gained control over the team in that time. The plan was to move the team to a different city altogether because of this, but none of it came into place, and at the end of the day, the Coyotes remained in Glendale.
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In December 2021, which I feel like is what broke the camel’s back in the whole arena situation, the Coyotes were informed that they would be locked out of the Gila River Arena because of unpaid $1.3 million in taxes. The bill was paid the next day and was said to be a human error in accounting, but at that point, it was too late and what’s done was done. The Arizona Coyotes were without a home to play in for the next season.
Just a couple of months later, the Arizona Coyotes reached a deal with Arizona State to play their home games at Mullet Arena for the next 3 seasons, 2022-2024, with an option for the 2025 season if both sides agreed. The Coyotes were still making moves to try to get back into a full-sized arena with a proposal to build a new $2.1 billion arena in a different part of Arizona, in Tempe, which is about 30 miles from the original arena.
The proposal was rejected by the residents of Tempe, even with $1.9 billion of it being privately funded, which was shocking to the team and the NHL. So at this point, there’s not much movement on a new permanent home for the Arizona Coyotes in the near future. They’ve spoken to the city of Mesa to potentially build a new arena along with a sports district in that area for the franchise, but that isn’t even close to being a thought at this point. Even if there were a vote today and it passed, it would take years until it is built and able to house an NHL franchise. So for the foreseeable future, the Coyotes will be calling the Mullet Arena home, but is it so bad? Yes, yes it is.
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Even looking at it from a glass half full perspective, a full sellout at Mullet Arena would still be only about 1/3 of the average number of fans the Coyotes had in their previous arena at its lowest point. The average ticket price in the 22-23 season was around $85-90 compared to $35 in seasons past. I think that will drop in the very near future with the price spiked because of the spectacle of seeing an NHL team playing in such a small arena that should be for a college team. The NHL and the Coyotes have an issue on their hands; myself personally, I’ve seen one of my favorite teams leave the city, but that was in different circumstances; the league and the owners of the Coyotes seem to want to stay where they are.