Arizona Coyotes have been told they could be moving to Utah next season, reports say

Here’s everything you need to know about the NHL coming to Salt Lake City.

Arizona Coyotes center Nick Schmaltz (8) celebrates after his goal against the Washington Capitals with center Logan Cooley (92), defensemen Juuso Valimaki, second from left, and Nick Schmaltz (8) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Monday, Dec. 4, 2023, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The Arizona Coyotes are on a collision course with Salt Lake City.

According to multiple reports, the team’s general manager met with players on Friday night to confirm the rumored relocation. After months of positioning, Ryan and Ashley Smith are set to purchase the team in a move that will reportedly be announced next week.

Over the last few days, multiple reports from ESPN, hockey news site Daily Faceoff, and others indicated that the Arizona Coyotes could relocate to Salt Lake as soon as next season, with the NHL and Jazz owner Ryan Smith had reportedly made “significant and meaningful progress” on an agreement.

Hockey has been around Utah for several decades, but the addition of a major league franchise would be significant in a city that has long been considered a small market.

Below are some questions Uthans may have regarding a timeline of how we got here.

How long has Utah been trying to get an NHL team?

Utah Jazz and RSL owner Ryan Smith officially submitted a bid for a team in late January. But he’s been at it for quite a while longer.

In 2021, SportsNet Canada reported that he had been an interested bidder in the sale of the Pittsburgh Penguins. In March of last year, he had dinner with league commissioner Gary Bettman.

Then things started to ramp up.

Smith tweeted in April 2023 that bringing an NHL team to Utah was “in motion.” Two months later, he appeared on a Canadian podcast and went into detail about what kind of NHL owner he’d be, where the theoretical Utah team would play home games — the Delta Center for the time being, he said — and how he’d handle broadcasting games on television.

Not long after he submitted the bid, Smith went on the Pac McAfee show to talk about the NHL in Utah.

Why might the Arizona Coyotes be sold?

The trouble for the Arizona Coyotes started several years ago. The team used to play at Gila River Arena — now called Desert Diamond Arena — in Glendale. But the city decided not to renew the lease with the team after the 2021-22 season.

The Coyotes started playing at Arizona State University’s Mullett Arena, which seats just 5,000 people. That solution was always meant to be temporary.

The team hoped to get an arena built in Tempe, but voters in that city rejected three propositions that would have constructed a $2.3 billion entertainment district that would’ve been home for the Coyotes.

Now Arizona owner Alex Meruelo is trying to save the team by winning an auction on June 27 that would give him the land required to build a new arena and adjacent entertainment district in the Phoenix area, near Scottsdale.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly has said that “it’s getting late” for the situation in Arizona to resolve, and that there may not be enough time to find a solution if Meruelo doesn’t win the land auction.

Some reports, meanwhile, suggest the NHL might relocate the Coyotes ahead of the auction with a plan to give Arizona an expansion franchise should Meruelo get the land he needs for a new arena.

How much would Ryan Smith pay for a team?

Daily Faceoff reported that if the Coyotes were to relocate, it’d be in two-fold transaction. First, the NHL would buy the team from Arizona owner Alex Meruelo. Then, Smith would pay about $1.3 billion for the team. Some of that money is a relocation fee that would be split among the other owners.

When could the team play in Salt Lake City?

As of right now, as early as the 2024-25 season. If the purchase of the Coyotes goes through, is announced later this month as has been reported, and the NHL board of governors approves the transaction in June, that gives the new Utah team about four months to get everything situated before the season starts on Oct. 4.

Where would the new team play?

The Delta Center — or Delta Center — at least to start. That arena is currently home to the Utah Jazz, but has hosted several NHL preseason games in recent years. Eventually, Smith wants to revitalize downtown SLC into an entertainment district.

Smith has said in the past that he would like to build an NHL-specific arena. The state legislature passed a bill in February that would pay for a hockey arena with $1 billion of taxpayer money.