The Coyotes will likely have an American Hockey League team playing in Tucson next season. Two sources familiar with the talks confirmed that officials with the City of Tucson had multiple meetings recently with the Coyotes to discuss an AHL team playing its games at the Tucson Convention Center beginning in the 2016-17 season.
The Rio Nuevo district, where the Tucson Convention Center sits, funded nearly $8 million in upgrades to restrooms, concession stands, new seats, lights, a sound system and a new entryway two years ago.
It’s roughly a two-hour drive between Tucson and Glendale — the (temporary) home of the Coyotes — so moving the team makes a lot of sense, especially considering Arizona’s current affiliate is across the country in Springfield, Massachusetts.
This move would also follow in the footsteps of other Pacific Division clubs. Last summer, the Kings moved their AHL affiliate from Manchester to Ontario (California), the Sharks moved theirs from Worcester to San Jose, and the Ducks moved theirs from Norfolk to San Diego.
In speaking with Morgan, Tucson’s city manager wouldn’t comment on reported meetings with the Coyotes.
“What I can tell you is we have looked at what it would take to renovate the facility,” Michael Ortega said. “There were some discussions on what it would take to potentially recruit or respond to a request from a potential pro sports team.”
Currently, the Arizona Wildcats — a Div. I of the American Collegiate Hockey Association — play their home games at the Tucson Arena, which, per Morgan’s report, seats around 6,700 for hockey.