Fans pack Mullett Arena to see what could be the final game for the Arizona Coyotes

By Jacob Suever
Published: Thursday, April 18, 2024 - 5:51am
Updated: Thursday, April 18, 2024 - 11:35am

Mullet Arena in Tempe
Jacob Suever/KJZZ
Mullet Arena in Tempe on April 17, 2024.

With rumors of an impending move to Salt Lake City, Wednesday’s season finale may have been the last game ever for the Arizona Coyotes.

The news of the team's possible relocation drew a large crowd of hockey fans to Mullett Arena in Tempe for an emotional farewell. 

Although the team has not officially announced their departure, ticket prices were skyrocketing Wednesday, with the cheapest seats going for more than $400 on resale sites, as an unusually large crowd sought to get one last glimpse of NHL hockey in Arizona. 

Some fans headed into the arena said they understood the Coyotes’ need for a fresh start amid their struggle to find a permanent home. But many, like longtime backer Josh Moon, were emotional. 

“We’re pretty upset, actually,” Moon said. “We’ve been going to the Coyotes for a long time, and we love having them here in the desert. We’ve been longtime supporters and with all the stadium drama that’s been going on the past couple years we’ve really just been hoping for a solution, so we’re really sad to see them go.” 

Arizona Coyotes fans outside Mullet Arena
Jacob Suever/KJZZ
Arizona Coyotes fans outside Mullet Arena in Tempe on April 17, 2024.

Lifelong fan Ryan Pasiecznik said the team — which arrived in Arizona in 1996 — has had a major influence on hockey culture in the state.

“If you look at the youth programs in particular, they have grown exponentially in the Coyotes time being here,” Pasiecznik said. “Look at Austin Matthews who’s over with the Maple Leafs right now, he’s killing it. If you look at the Kachinas and their women's hockey program. They’re one of the top programs in the country right now.” 

If it was the final game in Arizona, the Coyotes went out on a winning note. They beat the Edmonton Oilers, 5-2.

But there’s still hope for hockey fans in the desert. The NHL has reportedly offered team owner Alex Meruelo an opportunity to start fresh with an expansion team in the Valley if a new arena is built within five years.

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