SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Arizona Coyotes are a team in crisis — and there’s speculation Sacramento could be an eventual option for the embattled National Hockey League club.
The Coyotes earlier this month had a public referendum on a proposed new arena in the Tempe, Arizona area voted down, which has led to talk the team might relocate in the coming years. And with Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé recently showing interest in purchasing the Ottawa Senators, dots have been connected to a scenario in which the Coyotes could call California’s capital city home.
However, there have been no concrete ties to the Coyotes and Ranadivé or the city of Sacramento beyond speculation. The team is under contract to play in Mullett Arena on the Arizona State campus, which seats roughly 5,000, through the 2023-24 season. The future beyond that is unknown.
The Coyotes previously played at Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona, about 17 miles northwest of downtown Phoenix, but the team operated at an annual loss of $20 million to $30 million, according to GoPHNX.com.
There is still hope of a new arena deal in the team’s current market. Salt Lake City, Houston and Sacramento have been mentioned as potential options for relocation. There has also been speculation Mat Ishbia, who completed a purchase of the Phoenix Suns this spring, could acquire the team and have it play at the Suns downtown arena, the Footprint Center.
Ranadivé’s Kings, of course, are coming off one of their most successful seasons in two decades after reaching the playoffs and hosting their first-ever postseason games at Golden 1 Center in downtown Sacramento.
The arena first opened in 2016 and has been discussed as a possible option for a hockey team, though the arena was built for basketball and doesn’t have a big enough lower bowl to seamlessly hold a regulation hockey rink without obstructed views.
The New York Islanders tried something similar with Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn when they signed a 25-year lease to play in the basketball-specific arena in 2012, but they eventually sold to a new owner who built a $1.3 billion hockey arena, which opened in 2021 near the race track at Belmont Park.
There is a belief the Sacramento region could support an NHL franchise given the Kings’ success and the growing popularity of the Sacramento Republic FC soccer team, but there are no indications that will happen any time soon.
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