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Tucson Roadrunners moving to Tempe as Coyotes move to Utah

Long term plan still remains to bring NHL team back to Phoenix
Mullett Arena
Posted at 4:29 PM, Apr 18, 2024

TEMPE, AZ — The domino effect of the Arizona Coyotes' departure from the desert will soon be felt here in Tucson as the Roadrunners are reportedly moving to Tempe to play at Mullett Arena. Alex Meruelo, who still owns the minor league hockey team, confirmed the move to Arizona Sports Thursday.

The NHL confirmed Thursday that Meruelo has sold the Arizona Coyotes and the team is moving to Salt Lake City, Utah.

However, there's also still a chance that in five years, Meruelo and his group of partners could be granted an NHL expansion team that would bring the Coyotes name back to Arizona.

Meruelo says he remains committed to winning the north Phoenix public land auction in June to build a new stadium as part of a massive entertainment complex.

While Meruelo sold the right to the NHL franchise, he keeps the intellectual rights to the Coyotes name. He also retains ownership of the Roadrunners, who have played in Tucson in recent years. Meruelo tells Arizona Sports that he intends to move the Roadrunners to Tempe and have them play at Mullett Arena, where the Coyotes had recently played.

The Roadrunners' move to Tempe is part of an effort to keep Valley youth hockey programs alive until an expansion NHL franchise makes a possible return to Phoenix.

The Roadrunners take their own line of history to the Phoenix metro area as many natives will remember the Phoenix Roadrunners. The team played on and off in Phoenix from 1967 to 2009 in different league levels before ceasing operations.

In 2016, the Coyotes announced it purchased its American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate that played in Springfield, Illinois, and moved the team to Tucson.

The team picked up the Roadrunners nickname and has played in Tucson since then.

Earlier this week, KGUN 9's Jason Barr and Pat Parris discussed the potential Roadrunners move on our weekly streaming sports talk show. Watch below:

The Huddle: Jason and Pat talk about the Roadrunners' potential relocation

On Wednesday night, during the Coyotes' last game of the season, KGUN 9's sister station 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

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.