Report: Arizona Coyotes look to buy land in Mesa for new arena

Arizona Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo is interested in purchasing land for a new arena in Mesa, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports reports.

Gambadoro says Meruelo has submitted a letter of intent to buy 41 acres.

The report says the Coyotes also are looking at other sites, including Phoenix and Scottsdale, and that the target date for a new arena is the start of the 2026-27 season.

The Coyotes are looking for an NHL-sized arena after they lost a vote in spring to build a new facility in Tempe.

The Coyotes had hoped a new arena in Tempe would finally allow the franchise to settle down after playing in three different venues since moving to Arizona.

The team shared a downtown Phoenix arena with the NBA’s Phoenix Suns after relocating from Winnipeg in 1996, then moved to Glendale’s Gila River Arena in 2003. But the Coyotes had a troubled tenure in the Phoenix suburb.

Then-owner Jerry Moyes took the Coyotes into bankruptcy in 2009 and Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie put in a bid to purchase the team with the intention of moving it to Hamilton.

The NHL, wanting to keep the team in Arizona, put in a counter bid and a Phoenix judge ruled the team could not be sold to Balsillie to circumvent the NHL’s relocation rules.

The league ran the Coyotes for four seasons and the financial constraints took a toll, leading in part to a seven-year playoff drought.

A new ownership group brought new hope in 2013 but turmoil surfaced again in 2015, when the city of Glendale backed out of a long-term, multimillion-dollar lease agreement. The Coyotes leased the arena on an annual basis until Glendale announced it was terminating the contract after the 2021-22 season.

The franchise found a temporary solution, working out a deal to share Arizona State’s Mullett Arena. The Mullett has a capacity of 5,000 and is by far the smallest home arena in the NHL.

— With files from AP.

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