The Arizona Coyotes, pending a new lease agreement with the City of Tucson, will move the renamed Falcons to southern Arizona for the upcoming season.
Springfield Falcons moving to Tucson
Tucson City Manager Michael Ortega said the city is “very close” to finalizing an agreement with the Coyotes and that “no city tax dollars” are involved.
The Tucson City Council is expected to vote on the agreement during its May 17th meeting.
Upon approval of the lease moving vans will be hired in Massachusetts and construction crews will go to work in Tucson. Per the agreements with Tucson arena upgrades will be made including new locker rooms, new dasher boards in the rink and a new press box will be built.
The Rio Nuevo District, the downtown Tucson development manager, projects a $7 million economic impact to the downtown core with the arrival of the Falcons. The increased sales tax revenue coming from increased activity at the Arena, the area bars and restaurants, along with the higher profile for the city are all tangible benefits to the local economy.
The Coyotes will join other NHL Pacific Division teams that have their top affiliates playing very close to the parent franchise. Vancouver is the only parent team that will not enjoy that arrangement.
The Coyotes were playing at a disadvantage having their affiliate so far from them. Now it will be a 131 mile car ride as opposed to a 2300 mile plane flight. The ability of the Coyotes to call up a player immediately as opposed to having it take a day or so will eliminate the possibility of the Coyotes being left short-handed. It also opens up the possibility for other methods of player management. For example, if the coach wants to send a message to a player they can now flip that player out for a guy from Tucson.
Additionally, having the team a short drive away will also allow consistency in business practices and approach as the Coyotes expand hockey's footprint in the state of Arizona.
For the fans of Tucson it presents an opportunity to enjoy professional sports in its own backyard, Additionally the Coyotes have stockpiled their farm system so the fans can see high quality hockey with prospects like Ryan MacInnis, Laurent Dauphin, Henrik Samuelsson, and Conor Garland skating at the Tucson Arena.
Lastly, there are no public ice rinks in Tucson at the moment. Part of the AHL’s arrival in Tucson will be the construction of a practice facility to be used by the new team, the University of Arizona Wildcats hockey team and the public for open skating and youth hockey.
As Coyotes President Anthony LeBlanc stated: “There is no way Tucson doesn’t make sense”.