It appears as if we are about to see a Utah NHL team for the first time. The Arizona Coyotes have reportedly informed their players that the club will move to Salt Lake City next season. This development comes after months of speculation about the team's arena situation in the Grand Canyon State.

The relocation is not official at this time. However, details are beginning to come out on what this move may look like once it is official. Local Arizona sports talk host John Gambadoro shared the information he has received from sources familiar with the ongoing Utah NHL situation.

Why Coyotes relocation is happening now

Utah Jazz owner and Brigham Young Cougars alumni Ryan Smith watches the game from the field against the Oklahoma Sooners in the third quarter at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

For years, the Coyotes have resisted relocation. Even when it seemed inevitable, the NHL and the franchise seemed to figure out a way to keep the club in Arizona. However, an arena and entertainment district proposal was shot down by voters in Tempe last summer. This kicked off the latest wave of relocation rumors.

A potential Utah NHL team became a possibility soon after. Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith let the league know he was interested in buying the team. And he has an arena that could host hockey games immediately. In fact, the Delta Center hosted a preseason game in September 2023.

Coyotes ownership held firm, though. They believed they could find a permanent solution in Arizona before time ran out. In recent weeks, the team announced plans to build a new arena in North Phoenix near Scottsdale. However, concerns over infrastructure emerged over the last few days. Furthermore, the team needed to win an auction in order to secure the land in the first place.

Gambadoro shared more information as to why the Coyotes are moving to Utah. “(NHL commissioner) Gary Bettman convinced (Coyotes owner) Alex Meruelo that selling the franchise was in the best interest of the players because of the indefinite timeline for an arena. Meruelo agreed it was unfair to the players and that led us to where we are today,” he wrote on social media on Friday night.

Utah NHL team details

Gambadoro had a few more insights on Friday night. First, he reports that the sporting side of the Coyotes organization will move to Utah. However, this new Utah NHL team will not have the business side of the organization move to Salt Lake City. It is currently unclear how this arrangement will work.

The next bit of information concerns the Coyotes' AHL team, the Tucson Roadrunners. Tucson is owned by the Coyotes, and some believed they would be included in a sale involving the NHL franchise. However, Gambadoro reports that Alex Meruelo will retain the Roadrunners. Gambadoro mentions they could play at Mullett Arena in 2024-25, which was also reported by an AHL insider on Wednesday.

Finally, we get to the financial aspect of this deal. Earlier reports indicated the future Utah NHL team could be sold twice. First, the NHL would buy the Coyotes from Meruelo for $1 billion. Then, they'd be sold to Ryan Smith for $1.3 billion, with the $300 million profit being split among existing owners.

Gambadoro did not indicate whether the two transaction framework is still in play. However, he did report that Meruelo would get $1 billion out of this. He also mentioned that potential Utah NHL owner Ryan Smith would pay $1.2 billion, with the $200 million profit being split as a relocation fee.

Finally, reports have indicated that the Utah NHL sale would involve a five-year window for Alex Meruelo to reactivate the Coyotes down the line. Gambadoro mentions that this is part of the deal, according to his sources. As part of the deal, Mereulo would need to pay back the $1 billion he initially received for selling the Coyotes in order to bring the franchise back.

It's important to note that none of this is official at this time. Details can certainly change between now and the official announcement. Overall, though, it looks like we are going to get a Utah NHL team soon. And there is a possibility of seeing the Coyotes once again down the line.