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NHL confirms move of Arizona Coyotes team to Salt Lake City, Utah

NHL says Phoenix would be granted an expansion team if Alex Meruelo can have a stadium built within five years
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Posted at 12:52 PM, Apr 18, 2024

TEMPE, AZ — The NHL has confirmed the Arizona Coyotes team has been sold and is moving to Salt Lake City, Utah. Current owner Alex Meruelo is selling the team to Ryan Smith, the owner of the NBA's Utah Jazz, and the team will make the move ahead of the 2024-2025 season.

Rumors of the Coyotes' move to Salt Lake City became closer to reality last week when players were told the team was moving.

The Coyotes started playing at Mullett Arena last season after the City of Glendale did not renew its agreement with the team for them to play at what is now Desert Diamond Arena.

Since then, multiple attempts were made to secure land, primarily in the East Valley, to build the team a new arena. After all of those options failed, including a failed vote to build an entertainment district in Tempe, the team set its eyes on land in north Phoenix.

On Wednesday night, during the Coyotes' last game of the season, ABC15 was there when the team received a standing ovation following their win against the Oilers. Watch the emotional moment in the player below.

Emotional standing ovation for the Arizona Coyotes last game

See the fan spirit and take a walk down memory lane with ABC15's Coyotes Fan Scrapbook of viewer photos.

The NHL confirms that if Meruelo can have a new stadium suitable for an NHL team built within five years, then Phoenix would be granted an expansion team. Meruelo's group told ABC15 in recent weeks they are committed to winning the north Phoenix public land auction happening in June to build a new stadium as part of a massive entertainment complex.

In that scenario, the "Coyotes" namesake could be used for the new Arizona franchise. The Salt Lake City team is expected to choose a new name before next season.

Meruelo and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman spoke Friday in Phoenix. Watch that video in the player below:

National Hockey League and Arizona Coyotes hold press conference following sale of team

Amid the news of the Coyotes being sold, use the interactive timeline below to take a look back at the team's history:

Read the full release from the NHL below:

"The National Hockey League’s Board of Governors today approved the establishment of a franchise beginning with the 2024-25 season in Utah, that will be owned and controlled by Smith Entertainment Group, which is led by Ryan and Ashley Smith. In addition, the Board approved a plan that renders the Arizona Coyotes franchise inactive, with a right to reactivate if owner Alex Meruelo has fully constructed a new, state-of-the-art facility appropriate for an NHL team within five years.

Effective at closing, the approved transactions will result in the Coyotes’ franchise transferring the totality of its existing hockey assets – including its full Reserve List, roster of Players and draft picks and its Hockey Operations Department – to the Utah franchise.

“As everyone knows, Utah is a vibrant and thriving state, and we are thrilled to be a part of it,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “We are also delighted to welcome Ashley and Ryan Smith to the NHL family and know they will be great stewards of the game in Utah. We thank them for working so collaboratively with the League to resolve a complex situation in this unprecedented and beneficial way.

“The NHL’s belief in Arizona has never wavered. We thank Alex Meruelo for his commitment to the franchise and Arizona, and we fully support his ongoing efforts to secure a new home in the desert for the Coyotes. We also want to acknowledge the loyal hockey fans of Arizona, who have supported their team with dedication for nearly three decades while growing the game.”

“We are honored to bring an NHL team to Utah and understand the responsibility we have as stewards of a new NHL franchise,” said Ryan and Ashley Smith, owners of Smith Entertainment Group. “This is a transformative day for our state and our fans. Our intention had always been to pursue an expansion team. Commissioner Bettman conceived and proposed an ingenious plan that would allow us to acquire an NHL franchise while also helping to address and remedy an immediate need of the NHL. When he approached us and asked us for help resolving this situation, we made the bold decision to introduce a new franchise in Utah, fully understanding that we are stepping up to do something in a time frame and way that has never been done before in professional sports under these circumstances.

“We are committed to building a Stanley Cup contending team and are thrilled to welcome incredible players, coaches, staff, and their families to Utah. Today is a great day for Utah, for hockey, and for building a legacy that will have a lasting impact for generations to come,” the Smiths continued.

“I agree with Commissioner Gary Bettman and the National Hockey League, that it is simply unfair to continue to have our Players, coaches, hockey front office, and the NHL teams they compete against, spend several more years playing in an arena that is not suited for NHL hockey,” said Arizona Coyotes Chairman & Governor Alex Meruelo. “But this is not the end for NHL hockey in Arizona. I have negotiated the right to reactivate the team within the next five years, and have retained ownership of the beloved Coyotes name, brand and logo. I remain committed to this community and to building a first-class sports arena and entertainment district without seeking financial support from the public.”"