Could the San Jose Sharks be getting new neighbors?
Last night, city of Tempe constituents voted overwhelmingly against an Arizona Coyotes-proposed arena and entertainment district in Tempe.
This could be the beginning of the end for the NHL and Coyotes’ 27-year quest to find a long-term home in the desert. Commissioner Gary Bettman issued a terse statement after the Tempe referendum was soundly rejected:
Statement from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman regarding the results of the arena vote in Tempe, Arizona. pic.twitter.com/MVL3AUWP7R
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) May 17, 2023
Barring the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and their new owner Mat Ishbia welcoming the Coyotes as tenants at downtown Footprint Center, or another local option, Elliotte Friedman believes that the Coyotes’ likely next step is re-location.
“Could you go somewhere next year? Whether it’s Kansas City or it’s Houston or it’s Salt Lake City or it’s Sacramento,” the Sportsnet insider mused on his 32 Thoughts Podcast this morning. “I think it’s likely one of those four cities.”
On the surface, Sacramento seems like a longshot.
But they do have an NBA-worthy arena, Golden 1 Center, home of the Sacramento Kings, which could possibly be retrofitted for hockey.
Also, judging by their enthusiasm for the Kings, the California state capital, population of about a half-million, can certainly support pro sports at the highest level.
And perhaps most importantly, Sacramento could offer a motivated and deep-pocketed NHL owner in billionaire Vivek Ranadive. The Kings owner was reported to have interest in buying the Ottawa Senators recently.
So while Salt Lake City and Houston are probably regarded as the favorites to land the Coyotes if they re-locate, Sacramento does appear to be a legitimate sleeper.
Whatever happens, it won’t be for the 2023-24 campaign.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski today, “I don’t envision a scenario in which the Coyotes are not playing in Mullett Arena next season.”
Meanwhile, Coyotes insider Craig Morgan suggests that there’s still a path for the team to stay in Arizona.
Slow the talk of relocation period.
I did not expect to say this today, but I am now hearing that there is still a path forward for the Coyotes in Arizona.
The saga continues… https://t.co/ajvVbXxLNS
— Craig Morgan (@CraigSMorgan) May 17, 2023
So if the Sharks are getting new neighbors, it won’t be this summer.
UPDATE: It’s my understanding that Sacramento is officially San Jose Sharks’ territory, so a Coyotes’ move there would be subject to the Sharks’ approval.
San Jose Hockey Now has reached out to the San Jose Sharks and Golden 1 Center on the possibility and viability of the Coyotes moving to Sacramento. More on this story as it develops.
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