Coyotes: One Last Hurrah – June 27th Land Auction

James Mackey - Inside the Rink

The Arizona Coyotes seemingly have one final huzzah (if you will) at keeping the NHL alive in State 48 for the foreseeable future, and it rides heavily on Alex Meruelo and the Coyotes ownership group’s performance at the City of Phoenix land auction on June 27th, now just six days away.

In April, amidst a season with no postseason hopes, a momentum gaining train headed for certain derailment in the offseason and the threat of relocation, the Meruelo ownership group announced, via its NHL entity’s social channels and team website, their commitment to the NHL in Arizona with an unforeseen “promise to win” an upcoming land auction.

REFRESHER: The minimum bid for the auction is set at $68,500,000. Coyotes Governor and Chairman Alex Meruelo, despite reports that he had been shopping for new owners, announced his commitment to win the land auction.

For more on it, and to read my FYI piece, click here:

So, what happens if the land auction comes and goes, Meruelo shows and falter short of anything spectacular?

Great question – here’s my take.

HOW MANY MORE CHANCES?

It’s a real question to ask unfortunately and the time to ask it is now – how many more opportunities does Meruelo get from the NHL to try and keep the team here before he is forced to sell or give up on them?

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman made sure to outline the requirements of Meruelo if he wins the auction – a building needs to be coming out of the ground in the next three years, he can’t bring on a business partner as a team owner for more than 20% and he can’t relinquish or sell his rights to the Coyotes off for five years after the building is finished.

So, let’s say the building isn’t built – does the timeline still stand? What’s next? What becomes of Meruelo’s “exclusive reactivation rights,” and where do the Kachina logo and the Sedona Red colors go?

This auction stands, in my eyes, as the last chance Alex Meruelo has to prove that he can garner a franchise and build revenue for the league, without Bettman, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly or any other owners having to hold Meruelo’s hand and walk him through the ownership of a franchise – no one else is going to do it and at some point, despite his UNDYING love for the NHL in Arizona, Bettman is going to have to make the decision before he becomes a laughing stock.

If it is time to give up on what could be with the Coyotes and shelve the history of the team for a longstock, then so be it. Meruelo failing the land auction, not winning a referendum (which he’ll need to do in order to get the okay from the city to build), or just doesn’t match the promises he posed to fans and team alike, then it’s time to lay away the team to someone who possesses the capability to bring back the NHL and establish stability.

OTHER OWNERS ON THE OUTS

Matt Ishbia has far from been attached to a Coyotes livelihood in Arizona in anyway – and the harsh reality is, an investment in the franchise, despite what Ryan Smith has now done by being in on an NHL and an NBA franchise, sharing the same building and facilities, would more than likely have more negatives than positives attached.

The Coyotes have already tried Downtown Phoenix for a home, and it’s very plausible that with the swirling rumors of the Arizona Diamondbacks (practically) begging the city for the funds to renovate, if Ishbia does take on the Coyotes, the building would still have the same issues of obstructed seating and fixing it to be an appropriate home for the NHL would be an issue due to the size and location of the two buildings, thwarting the ability to expand the Footprint Center within the singular block split between it and Chase Field.

Not to mention the unnecessary step of making one of the other major franchise owners have to pick up the slack of Meruelo and fix the issues the Coyotes would bring. It’s been tried before – the original way the Coyotes were brought to Arizona – and attempting to ask a franchise owner of two contenders to take away from their main focus, to start from scratch with the Coyotes, would be unwise and seemingly riddled with issues.

RESULTS OF THE JUNE 26th AUCTION

I can’t say that I see a world in which a wonky stretch of land nearly half the size of the piece of land being auctioned 24 hours earlier would cause a problem with the consolidated land just to it’s Southeast.

At this point, it feels like destiny that the owner of that stretch, is also in on the auction for the 27th, and would somehow find the remaining roughly 92% of funds necessary to successfully be a serious bidder and take the land from Meruelo to do whatever they please (this is simply retrospective to the fact that it is all but written in stone that something negative happens).

BOTTOM LINE AND FINAL THOUGHTS

It’s possible this was all for nothing, and speculating that in anyway Meruelo shows up unserious and unprepared for an auction he had his team announce an intention to win was a waste of time and energy – in which case, I’d love to be proved as such.

Meruelo seems like he understands the absolute necessity not to blow this, and the necessity to fight like hell to keep the Arizona Coyotes away from dormancy.

I plan on being at the auction on June 27th, and maybe June 26th as well just to see what’s going down.

Follow me on Twitter/X for the up-to-date info on both auctions: @James_Mackey35

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
  1. We Got The Jack
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James Mackey

Credentialed Writer Covering the Arizona Coyotes

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