Arizona Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo preparing to sell the NHL franchise

Mike Armenti
April 4, 2024  (6:43 PM)

Mullett Arena in Tempa Arizona under construction
Photo credit: KTAR News

It appears as though, after years of financial distress and arena issues, Alex Meruelo, the owner of the Arizona Coyotes, may finally be ready to sell the franchise.

The Coyotes have been in turmoil for quite some time now, and have been viewed by many circles as the laughing stock of the National Hockey League, largely due to the fact that they were kicked out of their previous home at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona, and have been playing their home games in a college arena, Mullett Arena, in Tempe for the past two seasons with no real end game in sight.
The hope from the beginning was to have a new arena deal sorted out shortly after departing Gila River Arena, even if it meant building the team a new venue. Unfortunately, nothing has come to fruition on that front, and Meruelo is weighing his options in case the situation doesn't improve.
John Gambadoro, a writer for ArizonaSports.com, revealed on Thursday that Meruelo has already begun speaking with potential buyers in and around the Arizona area to gauge their potential interest in buying the team. He is currently seeking somewhere in the $1 billion range and has already had discussions with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, per Gambadoro's report, about what lies ahead for the Coyotes.
A spokesperson for the team issued a brief statement on Thursday, following the rumours of a potential sale, and told Arizona Sports that the plan remains the same at the moment; to build an arena in Arizona and keep the team there.
"Mr. Meruelo and the team are solely focused on the land auction and winning the bid. And to keep the Coyotes in Arizona." - per a spokesperson for the Arizona Coyotes

This seems to be contrary to what today's report suggested. If Meruelo is seeking out buyers and having preliminary discussions about what a sale might look like, how can he be "solely focused on the land auction and winning the bid" and keeping the team in Arizona?
There have been heavy rumours this season that the NHL could look at relocating the Coyotes if nothing develops on the arena development plans, and while no official deadline to sort their arena situation out has been set, I can't imagine that the league is going to be okay with the Coyotes playing out of a college arena for the foreseeable future, perhaps even several years.
With cities like Salt Lake City, Houston, Atlanta and Quebec City all having venues capable of housing an NHL franchise, they have all expressed an interest in potential expansion opportunities. This could provide the Coyotes with a potentially very unique, outside the box solution. Would they also be interested in potentially temporarily housing a relocated NHL franchise to test the market? If so, it could be a good opportunity for the NHL to get a good look at those markets for potential future expansion teams. I don't know if it's financially feasible, but to me, if the Coyotes are truly serious about making it work, they need an arena. Temporary relocation could solve a lot of the shorter-term problems that are impacting the team and eliminate the need for an NHL team to play their home games in a college arena.
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Arizona Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo preparing to sell the NHL franchise

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I think they'll strike an arena deal and stay put15626.7 %
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