Coyotes to Wander the Desert? 

The Arizona Coyotes may be looking for a new home way sooner than they expected. It was reported yesterday that the City of Glendale, the owner of the Coyotes’ Gila River Arena, is set to lock the team out on December 20, if they do not pay their delinquent tax bills and unpaid arena charges. The Coyotes could be wandering the desert soon enough. Earlier this month, the Arizona Department of Revenue filed a tax lien notice against the Coyotes ownership group. It is estimated that the franchise owes close to 1.3 million dollars in total.

In an e-mail sent yesterday, City Manager Kevin Phelps concluded that the franchise owed around $250,000 to the city in unpaid city taxes. The remaining money is owed directly to the state of Arizona.  In addition to this, the Coyotes are facing the revocation of their business license, a large blow to keeping the Coyotes in Glendale. They normally have a ten-day period to appeal the decision, but were granted an extra two-day grace period. 

As you would expect by now, Twitter users have good quips about the situation. One writer for The Hockey News shared: “I wish anyone believed in me as much as Gary Bettman believes in the Arizona Coyotes”, while an ESPN Writer noted “I have to give the Coyotes credit: They work really hard to get media reporting on the glorious palace they want to build in Tempe, while at the same time being one missed payment away from playing their next game on roller blades in a vacant lot.” 

This is yet another twist of the knife for Coyotes fans (that is, if there are any). Earlier this year, the city already decided to opt-out of its lease agreement with the team, forcing the Coyotes to move. The team was looking to build an arena in Tempe that would cost 1.7 billion dollars. Yes, that’s billion with a “b.” This is one of those “huh?” moments. The Coyotes are the least valuable franchise in the NHL, being valued at $400 million. You could buy four Coyotes franchises and still have some money before building their proposed stadium. 

Perhaps this could be the straw to break the camel’s back and have the Coyotes relocate. It would be about time; on average they have about 14,600 people attend their games, pre-pandemic. The Atlanta Thrashers had around 14,000 before they relocated to Winnipeg. It just seems as if it might be best for the team to just get up and start fresh elsewhere. There have been rumors about relocating to Texas, Kansas City, or Quebec. Could we see the return of the Nordiques? I hope they bring back these jerseys

Photo via: Andrew Marshall, Phoenix New Times

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3L & Editor-in-Chief of the Buffalo Environmental Law Journal. Sad fan of the Philadelphia sports teams and Tottenham Hotspur. I enjoy writing and learning about the intersection of sports and business law, with a focus on the NHL. H2P!

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