The Arizona Coyotes will remain in Arizona for at least one more year while they attempt to work out a deal to build a new arena in a downtown or east valley location.
Contrary to all the rumors flying around, they WILL NOT be moving to another city due to Houston and Seattle getting into the mix of cities wanting an NHL franchise.
Nearing the deadline a decision had to be made
The Coyotes had until December 31, 2017, to notify AEG who manages the arena, if they intended to play somewhere else for the 2018/19 season.
They have the option to continuously renew the lease, according to what Ahron Cohen the team's chief operating officer told the Arizona Republic.
Per Dale Adams, AEG general manager, the team never indicated that they intended to leave Gila River Arena. "I don't know where they would go", Adams mentioned.
So, where will the Coyotes play?
Threats from both the team and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman back in March that the team would move if the Arizona State Legislature didn't pass a $225 million public financing package for a new arena produced no results.
There have however been rumors that the team could work out a deal with the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community to build an arena on tribal land.
According to Kim Secakuku, who is a spokesman for the tribe, the talk is nothing but rumors. She has had no information about an investment by the tribe in regards to a new arena.
Brent Stoddard is a spokesman for the City of Glendale and stated the city has heard nothing new regarding a new arena funding bill for the 2018 Legislature.
That makes every Coyotes' fan wondering, as they have for quite a long time, where the team will be playing, or if a new arena is even viable.
The problem with any delays in the decision-making process is that a new arena if approved will take a minimum of two years to build. In order for the team to pick up and move to another arena location, construction of a new facility would have had to begin two months ago.
The way the team is playing will a new arena make a difference?
The Arizona Coyotes are just playing awful hockey. They are dead last in the entire NHL and have only mustered seven wins in 36 games.
In order to entice new fans to the sport and fill a new arena, the team needs a following. They do have loyal fans, but the way they are playing this season makes one wonder if they could sell enough tickets to keep the team here... period.
Last night's game against the Florida Panthers drew a season-low 10,203 fans through the turnstiles. Hardly enough to pay the bills.
The fact that they want to build a new facility in the East Valley is all fine and good, but fans from that area won't support a losing team any more than fans supporting them in their present location.
Let's face it... fans like winning teams and the Coyotes would need to really step up their level of play to encourage fans to spend hard earned money on a product which is not very attractive.
There's plenty of alternative entertainment choices for citizens living in the Phoenix metropolitan area.
Team finances are not solid
New majority owner Andrew Barroway bought out minority owners this past summer and absorbed over $200 million in debt. Barroway has been adamant in his vow to keep the Coyotes in Arizona.
The team is valued at about $300 million according to Forbes, which makes them the lowest valued franchise in the NHL.
Barroway is a hedge fund manager and with the team's debt ratio being estimated at 83 percent, and the losses last season totaling $19 million, that means he has little, if any, flexibility to borrow money.
He didn't exactly endear himself to local fans when he didn't offer the popular player and captain Shane Doan a contract for this season.
Doan retired, but the wounds may not have yet healed.
One thing is certain.
The Arizona Coyotes future in many respects is cloudy, at best. They tried to start anew this season with a new head coach, and new players which were intended to improve the team's standing.
So far nothing has seemed to work.
Will a new arena even if placed where the team's supposed fanbase support is located help make this hockey team a successful business venture as well as a place hockey fans want to watch a game?
Yet to be determined.
What is your take as to where the Arizona Coyotes franchise is headed? Are they moving out of state, or to a more favorable local site? Let us know in the comments section below.