Gary Bettman opens up on what is next for the Arizona hockey market

Cooper Godin
June 27, 2024  (1:16 PM)

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Alex Meruelo.
Photo credit: KGET 17

It's been quite a week for hockey in Arizona and it appears that it'll be a long while before an NHL team returns to the state.

Late last week, Alex Meruelo was set to participate in a land auction in North Phoenix, but the Arizona State Land Department cancelled it due to a number of reasons, including the fact that the area wasn't zoned for a 17,000-seat NHL arena.
After the land auction was cancelled, Alex Meruelo made a big decision and on Monday night, while all the major networks were focused on the Stanley Cup celebrations, he decided to step away from owning the Arizona Coyotes.
With that news, it left more questions than answers including what happens to the five-year window the NHL granted Meruelo to bring a team back to the state and another being what happens to the Coyotes' logo and branding/identity.
According to David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period, the NHL confirmed that the exclusive five-year window they gave to Meruelo has been voided and any new prospective owners will have to go through the formal expansion process, whenever the league decides to do so.
"Now that Alex Meruelo has terminated his right to reactivate the Arizona Coyotes franchise, the NHL confirms to me that his exclusive 5-year window to bring the team back is now void. NHL will be open to any new prospective owner interested in the AZ market." Pagnotta said.

He added, "Follow up: Sense I've gotten from League sources is they want things to cool down in AZ before pursuing new ownership prospects. And the key will be having an appropriate and legitimate arena plan in place first."

As for the Coyotes' brand, logo and name, that has officially been returned to the National Hockey League, Sportico confirmed on Tuesday afternoon.
"Confirmed: Meruelo will be returning the Coyotes' branding (name, logos, etc) and the rights to the Phoenix area back to the NHL. #Yotes"

Whenever the NHL decides to open a formal expansion process in the coming years, Arizona will certainly be in tough with markets such as Atlanta, Houston, Milwaukee, Portland and Kansas City all expressing interest in having a franchise down the road.
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Gary Bettman opens up on what is next for the Arizona hockey market

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