While not a certainty by any means, there’s a chance that the scene of sports in Prescott might be joined by a major league team. Of course, the state of Arizona has a team in each of the four major leagues, but they’re concentrated in Phoenix and Glendale.
Now, due to complications with their present home and targeted new home, it might not just be wild coyotes in ABC15, with the NHL Coyotes in search of a residence. Presently a near-two-hour drive away in Glendale, if a proposed move continues to fall through, an arena in Prescott Valley might just be the struggling team’s next option.
Troubles for the Glendale-based NHL franchise
For some time now, the Arizona Coyotes have planned to move from their current residence, Glendale’s Gila River Arena, to new facilities in the nearby Tempe. However, what was expected to be a smooth process started to crumble at the start of 2022.
As it stands, the Tempe city council is divided, with two voting yes to the arena construction proposal, two voting no, and two being undecided by leaning towards no. The Yotes were, reportedly, the only group to submit a bid for the land, but trust in Alex Meruelo has been diminished due to unpaid taxes to Glendale, amounting to $1.3 million in state, city, and operating bills. The taxes were paid, blaming it on “human error,” but it was another less favorable headline for the NHL’s least valuable side.
Paying these taxes has allowed the Coyotes to stay at the Gila River Arena until the conclusion of the season, but with the plans for a new facility in Tempe stalling, other options need to be explored. The issue is finding somewhere that’s close to being NHL-ready. Chase Field would be the big one, but likely won’t be available and would be very expensive to set up for hockey. Instead, the smaller arenas in Prescott, such as the Findlay Toyota Center – former home of the Phoenix Suns’ affiliate side – Arizona State’s campus in Tempe, or Tucson’s arenas are very much on the table.
With the Coyotes failing to make the intended impact of a major league team at the Gila River Arena, Glendale’s looking to spend up to $50 million to update the arena and attract more events. At this present moment in time, and given the history of the team, the real question may be: who would want to host the Arizona Coyotes?
On-ice just as frantic as in the boardroom
In varsity football, at least, Prescott has enjoyed getting the best of Glendale teams, in this instance, the Cardinals in September 2021, but it’s very rare for one of the big southern teams to come up this way. However, the Coyotes are far from being able to bring major league thrills to the area should they come to Prescott Valley.
A losing team that has continually aimed to shoot itself in the foot since the 2004/05 lockout, they’re now in yet another rebuild. This rebuild comes after the Don Maloney rebuild was set to bear fruit, only for the team to fire him and bring in the youngest GM in the NHL in 2016, John Chayka, and that rebuild to crumble in 2020 after he quit, per The Athletic. Now, there’s another rebuild underway, with the team being stripped down a great deal over the summer.
So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the power rankings Sportsnet posted rank them 31st out of 32 teams. Sports Illustrated concurred in their pre-season valuations. Now, the Coyotes sit at the foot of the Central Division with a .297 win percentage around the halfway mark of the campaign. As of January 19, this has left the Yotes as non-contenders in the online betting Betway odds, out at +100000 just to claim the division, setting them way back of -357 Colorado Avalanche or the +650 St. Louis Blues.
The season won’t get any easier, either, with star defenseman Jakob Chychrun – who has seven points in 26 games – tipped as trade bait as we approach the NHL trade deadline. Being in full decline and ripping away much of the team, Arizona will certainly look to shift valuable skaters for more picks. In the picks list CapFriendly provides, the Coyotes already have as many as three first-round and five second-round picks in 2022.
If the struggling NHL franchise is kept out of Tempe, at least a temporary home may be sought in Prescott. If this becomes the case, the city will get a major league team, but the main attractions will, for the most part, be the traveling sides.