What’s next? A brief history of the Arizona Coyotes

Arizona Coyotes
Arizona Coyotes(MGN Online)
Published: May. 17, 2023 at 1:39 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5/AP) - Voters in Tempe rejected an entertainment district that included plans to construct a new Arizona Coyotes new arena on Tuesday, nearly six months after the Tempe City Council voted unanimously (7-0) in approval of this proposal. This leaves the organization, fans, and residents of Arizona to wonder where the Coyotes will go from here.

“We are very disappointed Tempe voters did not approve Propositions 301, 302, and 303,” said Coyotes president and CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez. “What is next for the franchise will be evaluated by our owners and the National Hockey League over the coming weeks.”

The proposed entertainment district included a brand new 16,000-seat Coyotes arena, two hotels, retail shops, restaurants, and up to 1,990 residential units, hoping to garner interest in attempts to grow the team’s fandom after its recent eviction from its longtime arena in Glendale.

The Coyotes had played this past season at Mullett Arena in Tempe, sharing the brand-new 5,000-seat complex with the Arizona State University Sun Devils, and have a contract to play there through the 2024-2025 season. Stunned, the Coyotes president and CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez was unsure what was going to happen to the organization, as the organization along with NHL now have to review the team’s next steps, prompting Coyotes fans to wonder: What’s next?

One option could be to move back downtown and share what’s now called the Footprint Center with the Suns. The Coyotes had an icy relationship with former Suns owner Robert Sarver, but new owner Mat Ishbia might be more amenable to a partnership.

The Coyotes have said there was a backup plan if the Tempe deal fell through — perhaps a move to another Phoenix suburb — but have kept it under wraps.

A return to Glendale is likely out because of the team’s strained relationship with the city, though another city might be willing to work something out. Phoenix is surrounded by tribal lands, but any deal there would be complicated, particularly if owner Alex Meruelo wants a casino to be part of the development.

Relocation rumors have followed the Coyotes for years and the rejection by Tempe may lead to a road out of the desert. Bettman has been adamant the franchise will remain in Arizona.

Maybe the Coyotes and league can look at relocating somewhere like Portland, Oregon, Kansas City, Houston, Milwaukee or Salt Lake City. Canadian fans in non-NHL cities have clamored to have a team of their own, so perhaps the Coyotes head back to Canada, maybe to Quebec City or Hamilton, Ontario.

From an on-ice perspective, the Coyotes will attempt to continue to operate as if nothing has changed.

But the rejection vote could hamper the team in free agency, with some players unwilling to head to the desert when there’s so much uncertainty. It may also impact their ability to sign first-rounder Logan Cooley and the Coyotes’ other draft picks, who might not want to join a team when they don’t know if it’s still going to be in Arizona.

The Coyotes are in a tough spot all around. The optimism surrounding a possible escape from instability turned into more chaos with the “no” vote.

Given the team’s relatively short history in Arizona, let alone its recent struggles, the team has had its moments. The state of Arizona may not be ready to let go of its NHL franchise just yet, and in the state of relocation contemplation, longtime fans may spend the possible time the Coyotes have left reminiscing the memories the team gave them, good or bad.


The Coyotes move to Phoenix from Winnipeg, Canada, where they were the Winnipeg Jets. They shared America West Arena (now named Footprint Center) with the Phoenix Suns at the time. They were called the Phoenix Coyotes.


The Phoenix Coyotes reach the postseason in four of five seasons, losing the NHL Western Conference quarterfinals in every appearance.


Team owner Steve Ellman inks a deal with Glendale to build a hockey/concert arena near Loop 101 and Glendale Avenue. Ellman tried to build an arena/entertainment complex in Scottsdale but couldn’t reach an agreement.


The Phoenix Coyotes officially move to Glendale and play their first game at Glendale Arena.


Wayne Gretzky becomes the head coach of the Coyotes. However, the team posted underwhelming results, going 143-161-24 during his tenure.


The Phoenix Coyotes reach the postseason in two straight years, losing in the NHL Western Conference quarterfinals in both appearances.


The Phoenix Coyotes win their first division title as an NHL team with a 42-27 record and reach their first Western Conference finaal before losing in five games to the Los Angeles Kings.


The team changes its name to the Arizona Coyotes as part of an agreement with the city of Glendale. Andrew Barroway becomes the majority owner of the Coyotes.


The Glendale City Council votes to end its agreement for the Arizona Coyotes to manage and play at Gila River Arena before ultimately agreeing to a two-year deal, cutting the team’s payments from $15 million a year to $6.5 million a year.


NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman states the Coyotes will not succeed in Glendale, the team meets with officials in Mesa to potentially build a new arena by Sloan Park, the Chicago Cubs spring training facility in Mesa.


The Coyotes make a splash, trade for Phil Kessel from the Toronto Maple Leafs, who scores 42 goals in his three seasons with the organization. Leaves to sign with Las Vegas Golden Knights in 2022 after “not being the (Coyote’s) direction.”


Glendale announces it will not renew the Arizona Coyotes after the 2021-2022 season. Upon eviction, the Coyotes move to Tempe, where they’ll share Mullett Arena with the Arizona State University Sun Devils.


The city of Tempe rejects a proposal for an entertainment district that’ll include an arena for the Arizona Coyotes. The Coyotes are back searching for a new home.

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