Why NHL's Coyotes are playing at Arizona State's new arena


Hockey in Arizona is about to get weird.

The sport came to the desert when the Phoenix Coyotes were founded in 1996, while Arizona State’s men’s hockey program joined the Division I circuit in 2015. The Sun Devils got to play their first game at their new venue, Mullett Arena, on Oct. 14, and they will soon have some professional company. 

Why are the Coyotes now sharing an arena with a college team? And just how small is their new home compared to other NHL rinks?

Here’s everything you need to know about the Coyotes’ arena situation and how they ended up here.

Where do the Arizona Coyotes play?

The Coyotes are going to play home games at Mullett Arena in Tempe, Ariz., for each of the next three, and possibly four, seasons.

The team previously played at America West Arena from 1996 to 2003 before moving to Glendale Arena – which later became Gila River Arena and is now Desert Diamond Arena – during the 2003-04 NHL season. 

Why are the Coyotes playing home games at Arizona State?

The Coyotes finished the last year of their lease at Gila Arena in Glendale, Ariz., with the 2021-22 season and the city announced that it was ending its relationship with the team.

In February 2022, the Coyotes announced a partnership with Arizona State to hold home games at Mullett Arena for the 2022-23, 2023-24 and 2024-25 seasons with an option for 2025-26 if both sides agree to it. The Arizona Board of Regents approved the deal.

The university maintains scheduling priority over the NHL team. The Coyotes and Sun Devils will both have their logos on center ice, and the Coyotes are not allowed to include other on-ice branding or digitally remove the collegiate logo on its broadcasts, per AZ Central.

How big is the Coyotes’ arena?

Mullett Arena has an official capacity of 5,025 fans, though that number will decrease slightly for hockey games. 

What is the smallest arena in the NHL?

The Coyotes will have three times fewer seats than any other NHL team while they are at Mullett Arena.

The Winnipeg Jets had the smallest arena last season with a 15,321-seat capacity at Canada Life Centre. After that, the New Jersey Devils (Prudential Center, 16,514) and New York Islanders (UBS Arena, 17,113) had the next-smallest venues. Coming in at No. 29 on the list of biggest arenas were the Coyotes (Gila River Arena, 17,125).

On the other end of the scale, the Montreal Canadiens (Bell Centre, 21,302) have the NHL’s biggest arena. They are followed by the Toronto Maple Leafs (Scotiabank Arena, 19,800), Chicago Blackhawks (United Center, 19,717) and Philadelphia Flyers (Wells Fargo Center, 19,543).

Which NHL team had the lowest attendance in 2021-22?

The Coyotes had a tough time filling out their NHL-sized arena last season. The team averaged 11,601 fans at games last season, trailing just the Buffalo Sabres (9,998) and Ottawa Senators (10,145) for the lowest attendance figures in the league.

How much do Coyotes tickets cost?

Fewer seats – and the brand new venue – seem to be driving up the demand for tickets at Coyotes home games in 2022-23.

ESPN reported in September that the Coyotes expect to sell out all 41 home games in 2022-23 and that season-ticket revenue is 50% higher than it was last season. The lowest starting ticket price for any Coyotes home game is $80 (before fees), more expensive than the cheapest seat at all 41 of their road games.

When is the Coyotes’ first home game?

While Arizona State made its Mullett Arena debut on Oct. 14, the Coyotes will have to wait until Friday, Oct. 28, to take the ice at their new home.

The team will begin the regular season with six away games before finally hosting its first home tilt against the Winnipeg Jets. The contest kicks off a four-game homestand, but then they will embark on a 14-game road trip from Nov. 5 through Dec. 9. Over that same stretch, the Arizona State men’s hockey team will play just four home games.

Once the Coyotes get back from their month-long journey, they will play 37 of their final 58 regular season games at Mullett Arena.

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