Last November, the Arizona Coyotes announced plans to build a new arena in Tempe. Now, the Coyotes denied reports that team officials recently met with people in Portland and Seattle to possibly move the team.
After reports came out about Coyote officials visiting the Moda Center in Portland and the KeyArena in Seattle, Coyotes Executive VP of Communications Rich Naim referred to the reports as “false.”
Whether or not the Coyotes actually went there, both Portland and Seattle have been potential NHL markets.
Seattle has the Seahawks and Sounders but have had a hole in their city that hasn’t been filled since the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City. KeyArena’s biggest tenant is the Seattle Storm but the city would surely want a big four sport franchise. KeyArena would likely need to be renovated.
Portland has the Trail Blazers and Timbers but without an NFL team, the city has a lot of potential growth to give the Coyotes a good home. The TrailBlazers play in Moda Center so the Coyotes wouldn’t need to do any renovations to the arena. The only thing the Coyotes would need to do is to give Seahawks, Trail Blazers and Sounders owner Paul Allen a piece of the franchise to move there.
Local officials in Glendale prefer the Coyotes to stay in Gila River Arena and while they acknowledge Portland and Seattle are great markets for the NHL, it is more appropriate for an expansion team.
“It would appear to be a step backwards for the NHL to vacate the 12th largest metropolitan market in the U.S. It makes more sense for the league to expand into the Northwest market with a new franchise,” Glendale City Manager Kevin Phelps said. “We believe the best option for the Coyotes is to sign a long term lease to play in the Gila River Arena and for the community, business and civic leaders throughout the Valley to come together to support the franchise. 35-year West Valley growth projections (2015-2050) predict the West Valley will grow at almost double the rate of the East Valley or city of Phoenix. Projections predict population growth for the West Valley region will be almost equal to the combined growth of Phoenix and the East Valley.”
Despite the team announcing plans to build a new arena with Arizona State University a few months ago, lagging attendance and lower than expected revenue has to have caused the Coyotes to at least seek out relocation. The Coyotes obviously wouldn’t want to publicly acknowledge they have been looking around for a new home but it’s just smart business. For the team, it doesn’t hurt to look around. For the fans and the city, it’s something else entirely.