Coyotes' owner is now desperately seeking buyers  

Coyotes' owner is now desperately seeking buyers

Sell this team and get outta Dodge ASAP!



Arizona Coyotes President Xavier Gutierrez told media earlier this season that the team has identified six potential arena sites in a last ditch effort to remain in the Phoenix area.

Where are those sites?

Hamilton, Quebec City, Houston, Kansas City, Salt Lake City, and San Antonio.

I kid, of course, the sites are all in the state of Arizona, but who are we kidding? The Coyotes are cooked in Arizona, right?

In particular, Gutierrez listed potential construction sites in the cities of Scottsdale, Phoenix and Mesa, Arizona. “We still want to put our money where our mouth is and build something that’ll be best in class,” said Gutierrez. Which, for a team that plays out of a 5,000 seat college arena, is just the height of irony to me. 

Despite having their multi-billion dollar plan for a new arena and entertainment district in Tempe rejected, the Coyotes are still committed to remaining in the Arizona desert.

“To all the fans, we are committed to making this happen,” he added. “We were disappointed with the vote in Tempe, but we turned the page very quickly.”

Now, there are reports that that owner Alex Meruelo is actively seeking a new owner for the team. In other words, he's looking to cash out while things are at their worst.


Arizona Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo has spoken to multiple potential buyers — who are in the state and outside of it — to gauge their interest in purchasing the NHL franchise from him, Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro reports.

Meruelo reportedly was seeking upward of $1 billion for the franchise that he bought in July 2019. The Coyotes owner had a recent meeting with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman regarding the team’s future, Gambadoro adds.

“Mr. Meruelo and the team are solely focused on the land auction and winning the bid. And to keep the Coyotes in Arizona,” the Coyotes told Arizona Sports on Thursday when asked about potential conversations Meruelo had with possible buyers.

Get this team sold and get them outta town ASAP.

Read below for an earlier report from TSN insider Darren Dreger on the team's snags in the Phoenix area.

Now, just months later TSN insider Darren Dreger is reporting that the team's plans to purchase land in Phoenix have hit a snag.

From Dreger's most recent 'Insider Trading' segment on TSN:

"I'm told that they are making progress in securing property in Phoenix. The problem with it is though is that the property that they have targeted has to go to land auction first. It's a valuable piece of property so nothing is decided just yet."

- Darren Dreger

What a shocker... nothing is EVER a guarantee with the Coyotes.

Today, NHL insider Frank Seravalli is reporting that time is running out for the Coyotes in Arizona and that a decision is expected to be made on the team's future this weekend.

From Seravalli's most recent column for Daily Faceoff:

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said last week that the fate of the franchise in the desert would be “addressed” in the “next few weeks,” but league sources suggest to Daily Faceoff that news is imminent, coming perhaps as soon as Super Bowl weekend.

Then again, it’s tough to nail down the Coyotes on anything. NHL Players’ Association executive director Marty Walsh said the Coyotes have blown through two different artificial deadlines to present to the NHL a clear and defined timeline to build and begin play in new arena in the Phoenix metro area.

- Frank Seravalli

So... what are the team's options?

Seravalli lays out the three options for this weekend:

1. Secure a site and get shovels in the ground.

More from Seravalli:

The Coyotes have mostly been mum on their search for a site. Hours after Walsh’s scathing comments, in which he said he was “extremely disappointed” in Arizona ownership, the Coyotes oddly confirmed a report from ABC 15 that they are “moving forward with a plan to buy state trust land in north Phoenix. But ABC 15 also added that “multiple sites are still being considered.”

That report ran counter to Bettman’s comments earlier in the day when he said that Meruelo is “focused on one piece of property.” Which is it: one property or multiple?

More to the point, the issue with a plan to buy state trust land is it may be time consuming with no guarantee of success. It would likely take at least one year just to purchase the land – which needs to be studied, appraised, and then put up for public auction. Even if the Coyotes were the only bidder for the land, it is entirely possible that government interest groups could challenge the purpose and belabor the process.

In fact, sources say the Coyotes are maneuvering to acquire a site via state trust land as a way to avoid another referendum. The Coyotes were unceremoniously dumped from Gila River Arena by Glendale City Council because they failed to pay their bills on time. Then, they were soundly defeated on a special election ballot by Tempe voters in an effort to build a $2 billion entertainment complex and arena on the site of a current landfill.

Simply put, if the Coyotes present the NHL with a plan to purchase state land, they have zero ability to fully guarantee the completion of the project. If the process takes a year to acquire the land, the very earliest an arena could be completed would be in time for the 2027-28 season, which would mean six full seasons in a college arena.

“I think the league feels that Arizona is a good market and I can understand that,” Walsh said. “The issue I have, and the players have, is how long do you wait to get a home? They’re playing in a college arena and they’re the second tenant in that arena. This is not the way to run a business.”

Not one to mince words, Bettman clearly hesitated when voicing his support for Meruelo and the Coyotes.

- Frank Seravalli

2. Sell the team, but stay in Arizona

More from Seravalli:

League sources have been buzzing about an option much less talked about, but one that is clearly on the table, and involves Meruelo selling the franchise to another local business interest who could privately purchase a parcel of land and fully fund the build of a new arena.

Could Phoenix Suns majority owner Mat Ishbia be interested? Ishbia purchased the team with his older brother for a then-record $4 billion in 2023. Ishbia, approximately 44 years old, is worth a reported $4.9 billion and is the CEO of United Wholesale Mortgage.

The Suns play in the 32-year-old Footprint Center in downtown Phoenix, which was home of the Coyotes from 1996-2003. It was a basketball-first arena, which was imperfect for hockey with obstructed view seats, but still held 16,210 for hockey. Sources said the previous Suns ownership group did not have much interest in accommodating the Coyotes as a second tenant unless they also owned the team.

With both franchises under the fold, Ishbia could build a brand new multi-purpose palace elsewhere, to host both the Suns and Coyotes and become the premier music venue in the Valley. In the meantime, they could upgrade the ice plant (cost: $30 million) until a new arena could be constructed.

A Phoenix Suns executive did not return a message from Daily Faceoff when asked about Ishbia’s potential interest in the Coyotes on Tuesday.

- Frank Seravalli

3. Relocate to Salt Lake City, Utah

Again from Seravalli:

Without a Mullet Arena move-out date in sight, it may be time for the NHL to finally pull up stakes and move the franchise after nearly a two decade fight. The Coyotes have been through bankruptcies, league receivership, multiple ownership changes and endured losing season after losing season, which has irreparably harmed the reputation of the team in the marketplace.

What better way to fix that? Move the team and change the name. That’s where Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith comes in. Smith issued an interestingly timed press release just 27 minutes after news broke that five NHL players were being ordered to surrender to police to face sexual assault charges.

In that release, Smith asked the NHL to initiate a formal expansion process, but also used two words that stand out: “[Smith Entertainment Group] has also made clear its immediate ability to welcome an NHL team to Utah, using Delta Center as an interim home arena for an NHL franchise.” Delta Center, home of the Jazz, has hosted NHL preseason games and would have a similar hockey setup as Footprint Center or Barclays Center or any other basketball-first arena with obstructed views in one end of the rink. But that would be a temporary solution. A gleaming new rink would be on the way as part of a Salt Lake City bid to host the 2034 Winter Olympics.

That would be just fine with the NHLPA. Said Walsh: “If there’s no plan in Arizona, I would encourage a move to another location, absolutely.”

No one doubts the viability of an NHL franchise in Phoenix, the fifth-largest city in the U.S., if it is run correctly. The Phoenix area has great wealth, unbelievable weather, as well as no shortage of Canadian snowbirds interested in hockey – but they also need to be a winner. They may be on track to eventually become one under GM Bill Armstrong, but their brand is toxic right now, as evidenced by two different municipalities rejecting them. Moving now and eventually coming back, starting fresh in Phoenix, might be the best play for the NHL and the overall health of the league.

- Frank Seravalli

Meanwhile, The Arizona Republic has also reported that the city of Tempe itself is under investigation for violating state law concerning the use of public dollars in an effort to influence the outcome of the Coyotes' public vote. The newspaper reports that Tempe used $32,000 to hire a public relations firm to gather information on the Coyotes' opposition in the May vote that sealed the Coyotes' fate. 

More from the Arizona Republic:

The Arizona Attorney General's Office is investigating Tempe for possibly violating open meeting laws and using tens of thousands of public dollars in an effort to influence the outcome of the Arizona Coyotes election.

Both allegations have to do with Tempe hiring a political consultant to monitor and geolocate opponents of the project using social media, as described by the scope of work.

Tempe quietly hired the consulting firm, called Strategy 48, on Oct. 15, 2022, without a public vote. That was three weeks before Tempe "reserved" a spot on its special election ballot for the Coyotes' $2.1 billion proposal to build an NHL arena and entertainment district on city-owned property. Residents decisively rejected the project on May 16.

Tempe paid the Phoenix-based public relations firm more than $32,000 for services that are typically used by political campaigns, rather than by government bodies. A city document obtained by The Arizona Republic shows the contractor's scope of work included:

  • Identifying social media pages "that could provide a platform for project opposition to publicize their concerns," as well as analyzing media stories and online posts to "better understand potential opposition messaging strategy."
  • Tracking the social media activity of individuals who post about the project and working to "determine where they live" in order to gather "data needed to identify and micro-target messaging."
  • Developing a long-term outreach plan in coordination with the Coyotes. In addition to being the main beneficiary of the project, the NHL franchise also ran the vote "yes" campaign.

I personally have no clue how serious these allegations are or what the outcome of this all may be if Tempe and the Coyotes are found to have been colluding, but I do know that I don't see any other NHL teams tangled up in corruption investigations. 

This team just consistently makes headlines in the worst ways possible. The sooner the NHL gets them out of Arizona and into a proper NHL city, the better for everyone.