Several cities are running a charm offensive with the National Hockey League (NHL) to welcome an expansion team in the future, but Marty Walsh believes the Bettman Circle should first seriously consider the Coyotes of Arizona.
The director of the NHL Players’ Association thinks it’s unfair that some of the players he represents are forced to play in the small Mullett Arena. The desert franchise’s move to the Arizona State University Amphitheater has caused quite a stir in recent months.
Walsh is willing to accept that the Coyotes are forced into this temporary solution, except that he would like to see some progress. Meanwhile, it’s too early to talk about Quebec, Salt Lake City, Houston or Atlanta.
“I think there are a lot of rumors about two more team expansions. I would say even three, (but) (the priority) is actually Arizona. They play in the university arena, 5100 fans go to those games, and they don’t sell all the tickets. I think that’s the first thing we have to address, finding a long-term solution for Arizona,” he explained during the PrimeTime Sports Management conference call on Monday, according to Sportsnet.
“These players are National Hockey League players. They deserve to play in a National Hockey League rink, Walsh insisted. We hope we can do that. It’s part of the business model. You can’t have 31 teams playing in full houses and one playing in a university arena, where you are the second tenant.”
The 2023-2024 season is the second the Coyotes will begin at Mullett Arena. Homeowners can’t seem to find a new home after a setback in Tempe, where a referendum prevented construction of a new building. The Coyotes reportedly indicated their intention to purchase land in Mesa in August.
“I’m busy). I expected that since we were further along in the process that they knew what they wanted to do next. We met them, I went there at the end of the season. They promised to work. It’s just speculation right now. There is nothing concrete. It’s November 13th, the season is going by fast. I would like to see more action,” admitted the director of the AJLNH.