Arizona Coyotes Planning to Use a 5,000-Seat College Arena as Temporary Home

Arizona State University is nearing a deal to allow the NHL team to play in the the school's new multipurpose arena

The Arizona Coyotes salute the limited attendance fans at Gila River Arena in Glendale. The team may use a small ASU arena for the next few years while a new arena is built.
The Arizona Coyotes salute the limited attendance fans at Gila River Arena in Glendale.
Christian Petersen/Getty

After narrowly avoiding eviction from their current home at Gila River Arena in Glendale due to more than $1 million in overdue taxes, outstanding debts to the city and other bills, the Arizona Coyotes of the National Hockey League are finalizing a deal to play their home games in a 5,000-seat college facility, according to PHNX Sports.

No longer welcome to play in Gila River Arena beyond the 2021-22 season after Glendale announced the leasing agreement with the franchise would not be renewed, the Coyotes submitted a bid to build a permanent home rink on a tract of land in the suburb of Tempe. As the team is still waiting for approval — and construction — of their proposed arena, they need a place to play their home games starting next season.

Enter Arizona State University and a multi-purpose arena that is set to open in the fall to host Sun Devils hockey, ASU’s wrestling and gymnastics teams, concerts, conferences, youth competitions and other events. “If an agreement for use of our multipurpose arena is finalized, we would be glad to help the Coyotes by providing a temporary home while their new arena is built just a couple of miles away,” said ASU chief financial officer Morgan Olsen, who is also ASU’s executive vice president and treasurer. “Our new multipurpose arena also would benefit from the addition of NHL-level enhancements paid for by the Coyotes that would remain with our building. We are beyond excited to open this wonderful new ASU arena. This agreement would just make it even more special.”

Due to NCAA rules that would not allow the Coyotes to use the Sun Devil hockey team’s areas, Arizona owner Alex Meruelo would have to spend between $15 and $20 million to build areas at the facility for his team to use. That cost, combined with the loss of revenue from playing in a substantially smaller venue than any other NHL team for three or four years, would seem to put a damper on the idea of the Coyotes sharing a home with the Sun Devils. But, with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and the Meruelo ownership group unwilling to consider moving the franchise out of Arizona, moving into ASU’s arena may be the best option for the 10-27 Coyotes.

“As we have said many times, we are completely committed to building our future in Arizona,” the Coyotes told PHNX Sports. “As part of that process, we are excited to be exploring some great temporary arena options here before we move in to a new permanent home in the Valley.”

Given the Coyotes’ current average attendance numbers, it’s possible no one will even notice they’re playing in a 5,000-seat arena. Somehow acquiring hometown star Austin Matthews from Toronto could help solve all of this, but put that plan on ice until further notice.

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