Top Relocation Sites for the Arizona Coyotes

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Top Relocation Sites for the Arizona Coyotes


Top Relocation Sites for the Arizona Coyotes


Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The city of Tempe held a special election Tuesday that included three propositions involving a possible new arena the Arizona Coyotes could permanently call home. The vote was not only for the area but a proposed entertainment district as well. Propositions 301, 302 and 303 needed to be passed by voters for the project to be moved forward but, much to the Coyotes and its fans’ dismay, all three propositions were rejected by a wide margin.

The NHL Board of Governors met with Arizona ownership yesterday to discuss the future of the franchise in the desert. It was settled that the Coyotes will play in 5,000-seat Mullet Arena for the 2023-24 season, but anything beyond next season is up in the air. The future looks bleak for the Coyotes to remain in Arizona. These are some possible locations the Coyotes could call their new home very soon.


The Frontrunners:

Houston – Houston has been a rumored site for relocation or expansion for years now, including a final candidate in both the 2017 and 2021 expansion decisions. Houston boasts a population of 2.3 million, which is the fourth largest in the United States. The city also has a pre-existing arena in the Toyota Center, which is the current home of the Houston Rockets of the NBA. 

The Toyota Center would seat just over 18,100 people for hockey, which would be comparable to the Enterprise Center in St. Louis and Nationwide Arena in Columbus while being larger than venues like Madison Square Garden in New York and TD Garden in Boston. Other positive factors that could bring the NHL to Houston is the apparent want of the league keeping the team in the US and the explosion of the game in the southern United States.

Salt Lake City – The NHL and Salt Lake City link has been picking up steam since the Los Angeles Kings began playing preseason contests there in 2018. The city has shown up and sold out most of the area for the exhibition contests as well. The rumors about the Coyotes moving north to Salt Lake began becoming real for some as NHL commissioner Gary Bettman met with Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith in early April.

If Smith can come to an agreement to bring the franchise to Salt Lake, the team will likely play in Vivint Arena. An issue could arise, though, as the arena was not designed to hold an NHL team as the capacity drops by more than 4,000 from over 18,000 for NBA games to around 14,000 for NHL games. Arena renovations would be expected and necessary to get the deal done here. SLC also checks the boxes of staying both in the United States and the Western Conference.


Kansas City – Professional hockey and Kansas City have a confusing relationship. The Kansas City Scouts were an NHL franchise for three short years from 1974-76 before being moved to Denver (and then later to New Jersey). Since the departure of the Scouts, Kansas City and the NHL have flirted with a return multiple times. The most famous being the near relocation of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the early 2000s prior to Mario Lemieux buying and saving the Pittsburgh franchise. 

The city has a nearly ready-to-go arena in the T-Mobile Center that sits in the heart of downtown Kansas City. The arena would hold around 17,500 for hockey and has hosted major events including numerous NCAA Basketball Tournament games, Bull Riding Championships, minor league hockey, arena football and recently a UFC fight night. Like Houston and Salt Lake, Kansas City fits both criteria of being in the US and would fit in the Western Conference.


The Could Happens:

Portland – This is an interesting one as the city has an already existing arena in the Moda Center. The arena is the current home of the Portland Trail Blazers and would sit just over 18,000 for hockey. Portland also fits the mold of being in the United States and the Western Conference. The issues could arise in there not being a ton of interest in the NHL from the surrounding area. Additionally, the Pacific Northwest just got an expansion team in the Seattle Kraken. It would almost feel like overkill, putting two straight franchises in a very tight area. 


Quebec City – It is always fun to think what a return of the NHL would look like to Quebec City. The Nordiques left for Colorado in 1996 and promptly won the Stanley Cup as the Avalanche that season. Quebec has the fan base and the arena to hold an NHL franchise. The Videotron Center holds over 18,200 for hockey. The issues arise as the city has already lost an NHL franchise, is in Canada and would require some sort of realignment as the team would need to play in the Eastern Conference.


Milwaukee – An NHL franchise in Milwaukee would be awesome. The arena is already there, as the Milwaukee Bucks play in the Fiserv Forum that would seat just over 15,000 for hockey. Milwaukee is also a great sports city as fans can be considered die-hearts for the Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. It feels like an NHL franchise would latch on quickly in the area. The Milwaukee franchise could also play in the Western Conference and fits the US criteria. Something holding the city back could be its small population of just under 600,000, but that could easily be overcome.


The Fun to Think Abouts:

Saskatoon – Saskatoon would be by far the smallest NHL city, with a population under 300,000. That being said, the NHL has worked in small Canadian cities with rabid, hockey-loving fans. This is proven by the success of the second edition of the Winnipeg Jets and its one-of-a-kind playoff atmosphere. While another Canadian team in a smaller city would be cool, it just logistically would not be worth it for the league at this time. Not now, but maybe downt he road, Saskatoon.


Hartford – The Whalers left for North Carolina following the 1997 season and have been home to a minor league team ever since. Hartford does have an arena in the XL Center that seats around 14,750 for hockey, but it does not seem like the NHL has any plans to head back to a place where a franchise has already failed. Problems arise in the team being around so many other preexisting teams (Boston, both New York’s, Philadelphia, New Jersey) and the franchise needing to be in the Eastern Conference. 


Atlanta – I had to put Atlanta on this list just because an NHL franchise has failed twice in the city. The Atlanta Flames played in the city from 1972-80 before being relocated to Calgary. The Atlanta Thrashers brought professional hockey back to the city in 1999 as an expansion team and would be sold and relocated to Winnipeg in 2011. The city does still have the Arena the Thrashers called home, and here the Hawks currently call home. If the NHL is smart, it will stay as far away from Atlanta as it can for the time being.


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