Tuesday, July 23, 2024

The Coyotes name and logo will remain in Phoenix when the team relocates

The Arizona Coyotes are relocating to Salt Lake City in their current iteration. But Coyotes owner Alex Merulo will continue to build a $3 billion arena and entertainment project in North Phoenix, with the possibility of resurrecting the franchise, an NHL source said. Sporty Late Friday night.

In a statement on Saturday, Meruelo said, “We are focused on the myriad of unresolved issues, so we cannot make any official public comments at this time. However, you have my assurance that I am going to address all of these issues and address all of your concerns publicly as soon as possible.

Once the deal in Salt Lake City is completed, the Coyotes' hockey operations department and players will be sold, rebranded and relocated for the 2024-25 season at a cost of $1.2 billion, the source said.

In a complex transaction, Meruelo will sell the franchise to Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith, but Meruelo will retain ownership of the Coyotes' name, logos and trademarks and the AHL's Tucson Roadrunners. He has been given five years by the NHL to complete his proposed arena plan and apply for another NHL franchise, the source said.

Meruelo is to receive $1 billion of the sale price, paying the remaining $200 million to the NHL, which is brokering the deal. If the stadium is built, Merulo will repay the league $1 billion in exchange for the rights to the new Coyotes.

Meanwhile, the current team will play at the upgraded Delta Center in Salt Lake City, ESPN reported and a source confirmed, general manager Bill Armstrong told Coyotes players ahead of a Friday night game in Edmonton.

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Wednesday night's game against the same Oilers at Mullet Arena on the campus of Arizona State University will be the last for this particular version of the club in the Valley.

Merulo bought the team in July 2019 for $425 million, its value recently Sporty $675 million, the lowest among the NHL's 32 teams.

Meruelo will still pursue a June 27 auction so the club can purchase the 95-acre site on the border of North Phoenix and North Scottsdale for a starting price of $68.5 million.

If he wins that bid, the cost of the project will include $100 million for infrastructure and $1 billion for the stadium, training complex and theater in the first phase.

The team would have been in danger of moving anyway if the Coyotes had lost a bid approved last month by the Arizona State Department of Land Appeals Board.

“If we are not the winning bidder, we will have to entertain a transfer of ownership,” the club's president, Xavier Gutierrez, said in a recent phone interview. “It will be our only option.”

The team will have to play at least three seasons in the 4,600-seat Mullet Arena, a college rink. That was a major issue for NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and his deputy, Bill Daley, who aired those concerns with Merulo.

All parties agree that such an arrangement would not be fair to players unhappy with the poor conditions at Mullet. There they used makeshift locker rooms outside the main building, which the Coyotes used to practice out of a $30 million complex called the Ice Den near Scottsdale.

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Gutierrez said the team has lost a “substantial” amount of money playing the past two seasons on Mullet, though he declined to put a firm figure on it. Sporty Those losses are said to be in the mid to high eight-figure range.

Instead of playing at Mullet, all sides reached an agreement that Merulo's portion of the franchise would remain dormant for up to five years, as and when he completes the arena project, while the players move to Salt Lake City.

Meanwhile, talks will be held to move the Roadrunners from Tucson to replace the Coyotes in Mullet, the source said.

This story was updated in a second column Saturday afternoon with a statement from Coyotes owner Alex Merulo.

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