Dallas Stars fans might be wondering why recent Arizona Coyotes news is of such interest to Texas. The answer lies in potential relocation to the city 250 miles South of the American Airlines Center.
To what could be the dismay of Dallas Stars ownership, the Arizona Coyotes are ripe for potential relocation to Houston, Texas. We now know the Coyotes will be without home ice after the 2021-22, thus opening the door for another franchise move. The Coyotes were originally brought to Arizona from Winnipeg in 1996.
Relocation talks come after the City of Glendale announced that they will end the Coyotes lease with Gila River Arena.
Houston has continually appeared on every short list of NHL relocation or expansion cities. Houston Rockets owner Tim Fertitta stated his interest in bringing an NHL team to the city back in 2017. Another NHL team so close to the Dallas Stars isn’t welcome news to the Big D. However, one must admit Houston’s sound commitment to its professional sports teams, to include a stellar fan base. Additionally, the Toyota Center is a more than adequate home for a professional ice hockey club.
A move to Houston would not be possible without the Dallas Stars. Texas, like Arizona, is as unconventional as hockey markets come. However, the Stars, Dallas, and Stars fans continue to show the commitment required to make the NHL stick in the Southwest. Much proof is found in the attendance figures, where the Stars averaged 20,326 fans per game in 2019-20. In Glendale, the Coyotes mustered a mere 14,605 fans per game last season.
More recently, Coyotes to Houston speculation was kickstarted after the NHL announced the Yotes’ move to the Central division. Some fans perceived the move as posturing for relocation. In reality, the move made sense considering the Seattle Kraken’s addition to the Pacific division.
It is difficult to blame Glendale for severing ties with a franchise that owes the city upwards of $1.4 million. COVID-related losses most certainly worsened the situation in Glendale and shortened the Coyotes’ leash. The Coyotes did release a statement that expressed disappointment with Glendale and intentions to seek new residence in Arizona.
Relocation to the Phoenix or Tempe areas remain possible, but hindered by waning fan interest throughout the state. For various reasons, the Coyotes have not remained committed to winning, which is a must for teams competing in odd markets. Thankfully for Dallas Stars fans, Tom Gaglardi understands the link between winning and fan interest. The Stars also continue to do an outstanding job with branding.
It will be interesting to see how the Coyotes saga continues to unfold as the 2021-22 season plays out. One thing we do know is that the franchise needs to act fast. We also anticipate the NHL getting more involved, the same as they did when orchestrating Atlanta’s relocation to Winnipeg before the 2011-12 season. –JG
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