Glendale is terminating its lease with the Arizona Coyotes for Gila Arena after the 2021-22 season, the city announced in a statement on Thursday.
The Coyotes have played at the city-owned Gila River Arena for the past 18 seasons. However the sides have been operating on year-by-year agreements since 2016, unable to find a long term solution.
City manager Kevin Phelps said in a statement that the “decision to not renew the operating agreement with the Coyotes was not made overnight or in a vacuum.”
“With an increased focus on larger, more impactful events and uses of the city-owned arena, the city of Glendale has chosen to not renew the operating agreement for the Arizona Coyotes beyond the coming 2021-22 season,” a statement from the city reads.
Alex Meurelo took over as the Coyotes majority opener in 2019. When the move was approved by the NHL’s Board of Governors, commissioner Gary Bettman introduced Meruelo as the person who he believed would find a long-term arena solution and keep the team in Arizona.
“He’s committed to trying to get a new arena in the right location, and making it work,” Bettman said of Meruelo in 2019. “He’s a person of substantial means and he’s very good — when you look at his career — in turning around businesses and making them successful. So I think this is an extraordinarily positive step for the Coyotes and their fans in Arizona.”
The arena uncertainty, however, is sure to spark more relocation rumors for the Coyotes, who have been subject to them for years.
Bettman has been steadfast in helping the Coyotes stay in Arizona. However if the NHL were to move a team, Houston is a city the league has been intrigued by in the past.
In 2017 – as the NHL explored adding a 32nd team, which ultimately became Seattle – Bettman met with Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta to explore putting a team in Houston’s Toyota Center.