Sometime over the summer, Arizona Coyotes ownership will more than likely start the process of trying to get a new arena built somewhere in the Phoenix metropolitan area. This time there will be a new face at the negotiating table for the hockey team as Alex Meruelo will be the team’s new owner. The Arizona saga continues. The National Hockey League approved the transfer of the Winnipeg Jets franchise to Phoenix on July 1, 1996. The franchise moved into an arena that was built solely for basketball and was virtually useless for hockey and other sporting events because of the arena’s configuration. Phoenix elected officials, who founded the building that was opened in 1992, wanted to make sure the NBA’s Suns ownership had a state-of-the-art basketball building. The Phoenix NHL franchise got a building with about 4,000 obstructed seats. The franchise owners knew the business was unsustainable if it remained in a building with a major flaw design and looked elsewhere around the Phoenix metropolitan area for a site to build an arena. Scottsdale had a proposal but that eventually fell through. The team would end up in Glendale, west of Phoenix with an arena-mall set up. Glendale went all in on sports with an NFL stadium and a spring training baseball complex with the hope of being a sports hub. Neither the arena nor the spring training facility has worked out financially.
Phoenix has decided to spend nearly a quarter of a billion dollars to renovate the city’s arena but the flawed design is not going to be changed. It will remain a basketball building and the majority of the revenues generated inside the building will end up in the pockets of the NBA Suns’ owner Robert Sarver. Phoenix is not going to build a new arena for an NHL team. That is the problem facing the NHL.