Last week, news broke that the Arizona Coyotes may be in search of a new home–yet again. While the team has denied reports that they’re being sold and relocating to Houston, the struggling Yotes can’t shake the rumors.
Arizona Coyotes CEO Xavier Gutierrez calls the reports “incredibly frustrating,” and said any talk of relocation is “completely and utterly false.” in a strong denial.
“It’s baseless and, truth be told, it’s incredibly frustrating because I think it completely overshadows everything we’re doing to show, not only with our words but our actions … our commitment here.”Arizona Coyotes CEO Xavier Gutieerez on relocation rumors, via Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo.
These rumors are fueled by the fact that the club has nowhere to play after this season, as their deal with their current arena expires and will not be renewed. Glendale, essentially, noted that they could make more money by using the arena for other events.
If the whisperings are true, though, it will not be the first time the Arizona Coyotes have relocated. They were once the Phoenix Coyotes, and ownership problems and money issues have plagued the club for over a decade. It’s a very real possibility that Gutierrez is not giving the media the whole truth (he would not be the first person to do so), and that the Coyotes, who struggle to get fans into seats, could be on the move again.
Here are three possible landing spots for the Arizona Coyotes, if the team gets moved:
Coyotes move to Houston
While Gutierrez denies the rumors, he could just be covering up what’s really going on. Journalists are tweeting that they’re hearing from business executives that the team is for sale, with Houston coming up in many a conversation. There is already a hockey-ready facility, the Toyota Center, and Houston is the fourth largest metropolitan area in the United States, with the seventh-highest GDP. They also already have an owner in Tilman Fertitta, who has long had a dream of a hockey club in Houston. There’s a built-in rivalry with the Dallas Stars, too, alongside corporate support, which makes the move very attractive.
NHL finds a home in Kansas City
Like Houston, Kansas City has an NHL-ready arena in the Cable Dahmer Arena, as well as another in the T-Mobile Center. Kansas City has been vying for an expansion team for quite a few years now, trying to stay in conversations when both Las Vegas and Seattle received expansion teams in the last few years. There is already a large hockey following in the regiony, where people tailgate for minor league teams and spend countless hours at the arena. This, people figure, is a surefire sign that an NHL team would succeed in Kansas City.
What’s more, it wouldn’t take long for them to prepare, as the arena is already in place, the city offers built-in season ticket holders, and they’ve already got hockey operations running for other clubs. They could likely be prepared to start next season with the relocated Arizona Coyotes.
Arizona Coyotes fulfill Quebec City’s NHL dream fulfilled
When the Nordiques collapsed and relocated to become the Colorado Avalanche, many fans blamed ownership and management (sound familiar, Coyotes?) for the club’s failure. When the team folded, fans almost immediately began an impassioned campaign to get the team back, despite the fact that they were oft-overlooked by expansions in American cities. Deniers cite the language barrier, small city size, proximity to Montreal (where Canadiens fans run rampant) and previous failure as reasons not to expand, but the city still has hope.
They, too, have built an NHL arena in the Videotron Centre, proven their established fan base, and a renewed Canadiens-Nordiques rivalry could serve to attract many more fans. It would remove the Arizona Coyotes from the Western Conference and move them to the Eastern, forcing a re-jigging of the conferences, but it could be made to work. It wouldn’t take them long to accommodate the Arizona Coyotes, either, which is an attractive reason for relocating. And, re-entering former Canadian markets has proven successful. Winnipeg got their team back when they came from Atlanta, and their organization has flourished since. The same could happen in Quebec City.
Hockey stays in Arizona with Glendale deal
Despite being kicked out of the arena and struggling to figure something out, there’s always a deal to be made. Xavier Gutierrez could be telling the truth after all, and the team could be working out a way to stay put. Glendale could reconsider, or there’s speculation that they could use the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chase Field until a more permanent solution is figured out. Of course, it’s not ideal, but the NHL has seen temporary solutions before–the New York Islanders played at Barclays before finally making it to UBS Arena. It does, however, buy the club time to figure something else, and requires the least amount of planning. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.