Maybe NHL hockey can work in Arizona, but Arizona doesn't want it to work. The Coyotes have now failed twice to secure the rights to build a new arena. First, it was Glendale who said "no, thanks" and just recently it was the city of Tempe who denied the 'Yotes.
Which leaves the Coyotes in a bind. They're now forced to play in a college arena with a 5,000 capacity for the foreseeable future. This situation has got relocation written all over it.
So, where might the Coyotes be moving to?
Will Arizona Stay in The Desert?
The Coyotes and their ownership certainly want to stay in Arizona. Recently, the 'Yotes submitted a letter of intent to buy land and hopefully build a new complex to the East of downtown Phoenix in Mesa, Arizona.
The Coyotes are attempting to purchase some land in Mesa to construct a new arena. pic.twitter.com/FDCmuqioG9— TSN (@TSN_Sports) August 9, 2023
And according to ESPN's Greg Wyshynski, the Coyotes aren't going to put all their eggs in the Mesa basket. Other letters of intent will be coming.
The signal here is that the intent is to stay, but we've seen this play out before. If the 'Yotes don't get their way and can't build in and around Phoenix, where might they relocate to?
Arizona Coyotes Relocation Odds
|Salt Lake City||+500|
Odds as of June 13
Why Won't Coyotes Move To Canada?
I want to get this out of the way ASAP. The Coyotes won't be relocating to Canada. Don't waste your time and money betting on Toronto (+850) or even Quebec City (+1500). It all comes done to economics. The Canadian-to-American exchange rate makes it difficult for Canadian teams to make profits.
The NHL loves cost certainty. A floating exchange rate where the looney is currently worth three-quarters of an American dollar is not ideal for relocation.
Also, Toronto?! I get they're the biggest hockey market North of the 49th parallel, but the Leafs can, and likely will, veto a team relocating to the Ontario capital.
Hartford Has Excellent Value
Did the Whalers ever truly die? Even though Hartford's NHL team hasn't existed since 1997, they're still present in our minds thanks to their incredibly cool sweaters that still sell reasonably well.
Carolina Hurricanes in Hartford Whalers jerseys tonight 🔥 pic.twitter.com/RrP9RC13Pv— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) January 30, 2022
The Connecticut capital is serious about getting the NHL back. Governor Ned Lamont revealed recently that they would have a meeting with Commissioner Gary Bettman to pitch Hartford as the right destination. Not to mention that back in 2017, then-Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy and Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin got involved in relocation talks when the Islanders were kicked out of the Barclays Center.
It's impossible to ignore the return of the Whalers with the state government being this serious (for this long), and at +1500, there's some serious potential for profits. But look, the odds are this long for a reason.
The arena that would host this hypothetical NHL team is nearly 50 years old and in dire need of an upgrade. And even then, that might not be enough.
The XL Center can hold just under 15,000 fans for a hockey game. It would be the smallest arena in the league. I am not counting the Coyotes' current arena.
Why is Houston Favored to Be Arizona Coyotes Relocation Destination?
Hockey clearly works in Texas. The Dallas Stars hold the tenth-best attendance record in the NHL this year with an average of 18,371 fans going to American Airlines Center. Challenging for the Stanley Cup over the past few years clearly helps, but there's no denying the strength of the Texas/Dallas market.
Houston is the fourth largest city in the US (as of the 2000 census Houston had 300,000 more people than Dallas) and it has one of the largest TV markets in the US. You know Bettman and the NHL want to get into that market.
Number of TV households per market
The NHL wants Houston and Tilman Fertitta - who owns the Houston Rockets and who's blocked the creation of an arena in Houston till 2030 - wants the NHL.
The league wants the Houston market, the market has an owner that wants an NHL team, and that owner already has an arena (Houston's Toyota Center) that could accommodate nearly 18,000 for a hockey game this really seems like a guarantee. And the odds are only at +250? That's an excellent return with $25 in profit on a $10 bet.