The Arizona CoyotesThey are at a crossroads not many NHL teams have ever reached.
And Xavier Gutierrez is the president, CEO, and alternate governor of the club. He wants to be clear about what lies ahead.
He stated that the narrative surrounding this company is not true. “We are taking actions you need to undo.” [past]This organization has suffered from poor decision-making for many years. We want everyone to realize that this story is not what's happening today. We are confident in the strategy plan we have created.”
It was not an easy task to overcome the mistakes mentioned. The Coyotes are closing one chapter in franchise history and opening the doors to a bright, but still uncertain future.
Arizona will play Nashville on Friday in the last game of the franchise's homebase tenure at Glendale’s Gila River Arena. Gila River refused the Coyotes a new lease after they threatened to lock them out of their facilities for $1.3 million in unpaid state and city taxes.
Next season, the Coyotes begin a three year residency at Arizona State University's new multipurpose arena. Construction is ongoing and it is expected to be completed in fall. The $134.7 million ASU project required that the Coyotes pay $19.7 million for add-ons. This included a 15,000-square-foot annex next to the arena, which houses NHL-quality team facilities and home and away dressing rooms. Arizona has been locked in for the 2024-25 season with the option to renew for an additional year.
The venue can accommodate only 5,100 people. This is far from Gila River's capacity, which was 18,300. Tickets will also go up in price, with the cheapest seats going for $89, compared to $55 in Glendale. This is an astronomical increase, considering Arizona's average NHL attendance has been below five the past 14 years. Arizona expects to finish the season in 31st position in the standings.
Coyotes see the decision to partner ASU — and all the public and private criticism it has received — as a necessary move. It's only a temporary solution for the Coyotes, and their first step toward making Tempe, Arizona, their permanent home.
Alex Meruelo, the owner of Coyotes, submitted a $1.7 million arena and entertainment complex plan for Tempe City Council in September 2021. This would be Arizona's long-term home. While the vote has yet to be cast, Gutierrez hopes that the actions reflect the Coyotes' ultimate goal of keeping NHL Hockey alive and thriving here in the desert.
Gutierrez spoke out about ASU, saying that “when we talk about the future, we understand it is very much temporary solution.” Alex will contribute his financial resources to help us say it. “We are putting dollars out. This is a huge commitment on our part. It helps to ease these fears that this isn't the place we want to go or that we don’t have the support or resources. It shows that we are an organization with a plan and a vision.
Gutierrez points out that the Coyotes are not responsible for the process of breaking ground in Tempe. As of this week the team continues to negotiate with the city. Gutierrez stated Tempe's council was presented with the recommendation, and that the city wanted further information and clarifications about some aspects of its proposal. Gutierrez believes that Tempe's city staff and the Coyotes will meet soon and that the club will be able to hold a public hearing on their proposal.
Gutierrez stated, “We want to remain fully transparent.” Gutierrez stated, “We strongly believe that this is the best way to go.” [project]It is compelling. We have a vision that matches the activity of today. [in Tempe]However, it is certain that the overall growth will continue. [Sun]Valley will look like. It will look like.
Gary Bettman, the NHL Commissioner, has consistently backed the Coyotes. He shut down any discussion of moving the team or any doubts about Arizona's short term lodging. This support was received amid concerns from many other areas of the hockey community, including executives, fans, and players skeptical. Gutierrez stated that the Coyotes are “happy” to have league support and urged patience as Arizona's future framework is put together.
“From the moment Alex purchased our team [in 2019]And that I joined [in 2020]Gutierrez stated that they made it clear that they were committed to this town. We know this is a hockey community. It is now up to us to make the necessary improvements and solve the long-term, permanent facility problem that has been part of the organization's story for many years. We are working towards creating a world-class organization that is committed to creating a winning culture both on and off the Ice.
It's also difficult to figure out the second half of this equation. Since 2011-12, Arizona has not made it to the playoffs in a full NHL year. For next season, the team has 26 players under contract and historically have struggled to reach NHL's salary ceiling floor. Players from Arizona could be scared off by drama around a new building.
Gutierrez does not want this. Gutierrez met with Coyotes players and the NHLPA special assistant after the NHL approved the team's plan for ASU play. Mathieu Schneider— to help ease their minds about what lies ahead. Gutierrez believes that Arizona's 2020 hiring of Bill Armstrong, as general manager, and 2021 addition of Andre Tourigny, as head coach, has created a “culture” that encourages competition, passion, and commitment.
He is still asked frequently how the Coyotes plan to recruit free agents. Gutierrez claims that the answer to this question is straightforward.
Gutierrez said that Coyotes' skating team loves Arizona. It's our responsibility as leaders and owners to create a path that will attract them, and make them feel like there is a way forward. That's exactly what we are building. We are in Tempe, ASU is our partner, we're in an exciting environment, and it'll be one-of-a-kind. It's very attractive, I believe.
Even though the Tempe transition is imminent, there's one more night for Coyotes to enjoy in Glendale. Gutierrez joined the Coyotes in May 2020. He only saw one season at Gila River due to COVID-19. He'll be most fondly remembered the interaction he had with the “rabid” fanbase, which was a constant inspiration as Arizona chart a new path.
Gutierrez and his company now have to deliver.
“Our fans are so connected, supportive, and engaged with the organization. We're so grateful for a path to sustained success. [now]He thanked him. “They have thanked our team for keeping them here, [thanked us]We'll be able to have a winning plan and a stable organization if we create a solid plan.
We would like to share our confidence. We know that [ASU]It is temporary. We are also confident that our organization will be best in class. This is because we have reestablished the culture within our hockey operations, as well.