NHL Board of Governors approves Coyotes’ move to Salt Lake City: Team will begin play in new home next season

The Arizona Coyotes saga is officially over. According to an announcement from the NHL, the league’s Board of Governors approved the Coyotes’ relocation to Salt Lake City, and the team will begin play in its new home beginning in the 2024-25 season.

Ryan and Ashley Smith, who own the NBA’s Utah Jazz, are purchasing the team. The transaction will result in the Coyotes transferring all of their players and draft picks to the new Utah franchise.

“As everyone knows, Utah is a vibrant and thriving state, and we are thrilled to be a part of it,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a press release. “We are also delighted to welcome Ashley and Ryan Smith to the NHL family and know they will be great stewards of the game in Utah. We thank them for working so collaboratively with the League to resolve a complex situation in this unprecedented and beneficial way.

“The NHL’s belief in Arizona has never wavered. We thank Alex Meruelo for his commitment to the franchise and Arizona, and we fully support his ongoing efforts to secure a new home in the desert for the Coyotes. We also want to acknowledge the loyal hockey fans of Arizona, who have supported their team with dedication for nearly three decades while growing the game.”

As a result of the transaction, the Coyotes franchise is considered inactive, but Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo has reserved the right to reactivate the Coyotes franchise in the Phoenix area within five years.

“I agree with Commissioner Gary Bettman and the National Hockey League, that it is simply unfair to continue to have our Players, coaches, hockey front office, and the NHL teams they compete against, spend several more years playing in an arena that is not suited for NHL hockey,” Coyotes chairman and governor Alex Meruelo said. “But this is not the end for NHL hockey in Arizona. I have negotiated the right to reactivate the team within the next five years, and have retained ownership of the beloved Coyotes name, brand and logo. I remain committed to this community and to building a first-class sports arena and entertainment district without seeking financial support from the public.”

The Coyotes will likely change their team name upon relocation as Smith has publicly asked fans for potential names if the franchise were to land in Utah earlier this month.

The Coyotes have called the Phoenix area home since the Winnipeg Jets moved to Arizona in 1996. The team was called the Phoenix Coyotes from 1996 until 2014 before being renamed the Arizona Coyotes.

The Coyotes have played their home games at Mullett Arena, a 5,000-seat venue on the campus of Arizona State, since the start of the 2022-23 season. The team’s lease at Gila River Arena was terminated, so the Coyotes were in search of an NHL-sized arena. Their current deal at Mullett Arena was scheduled for three years, including two one-year options that would go through the 2026-27 season.

The new franchise is likely going to play their home games at the Delta Center, which is also home to the Jazz. 

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