After a two-decade run full of highlight reel moments and off-the-ice drama, the Arizona Coyotes kicked off their Tempe era in a 3-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Oct. 28.
The team will play at least the next three seasons (with a team option for a fourth) at Arizona State University’s brand-new Mullett Arena while the NHL franchise awaits Tempe’s decision on building a new arena for the Coyotes. The Coyotes are expected to sell upwards of 4,600 seats a night. It’s the second full NHL season with legal Arizona sportsbooks.
The new arena – off of Rio Salado Parkway, a stone’s throw away from Sun Devil Stadium on the ASU main campus – is holding back 400 seats from the listed 5,000-seat capacity for visiting media and television broadcasts, resulting in the final sell-out capacity.
It remains to be seen if the team’s smaller home will impact NHL betting in Arizona. But it will certainly impact how the Coyotes attendance figures compare to the rest of the NHL, and even the minor leagues.
BetArizona.com crunched the numbers to see how the Coyotes’ attendance would fare across the 32-team NHL, as well as the two highest levels of the minors (the AHL and ECHL) using the 4,600-seat benchmark.
This site is also the home for all the Arizona sports betting promos.
Four Years of Sellouts Won’t Match NHL Attendance Standards
Assuming the Coyotes sell all 4,600 seats inside their temporary, $134 million home, they’d sell 188,600 seats per year (for their 41 home games), meaning they’d fill a total of 754,400 seats if they stay in the arena for four full seasons of hockey.
The highest total NHL attendance season since 2011-12 came from the Chicago Blackhawks during their 2013-14 campaign, when they averaged 22,623 fans a game (or 927,545 over their 41-game home slate).
If you remove the 2020-21 NHL season, where attendance was capped due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the yearly leaders in each of the league’s seasons dating back to 2000-01 have drawn more than 800,000 fans in a single season, which is 50,000-plus more than Arizona will draw, at best, in their four-year residency at Mullett Arena.
If you look at NHL attendance data solely from the 2021-22 season, the Coyotes’ four-year total of 754,400 would rank sixth in the league, behind Tampa Bay (782,772), Washington (761,493), Minnesota (760,226), Nashville (758,317) and Chicago (758,082).
The Coyotes’ four-year total would rank just ahead of the 2021-22 attendance for Las Vegas (742,124), Dallas (733,769) and Boston (731,850).
It’s worth remembering the Coyotes are playing in ASU’s new multipurpose arena on a temporary basis because the city of Glendale ended their lease at Desert Diamond Arena, where they averaged 11,601 fans in 2021-22 (ranking 29th in the league).
Where the Coyotes Would Rank in the AHL, ECHL
The Coyotes’ 4,600 per game attendance isn’t just low by NHL standards, as the team would also rank outside the top 10 in the sport’s next highest level of competition, the AHL.
Arizona would rank 16th in the AHL in attendance based on data provided by HockeyDB.com for the 2021-22 season.
The Coyotes would rank between the Milwaukee Admirals (4,786) and Syracuse Crunch (4,333) in the 32-team league.
If you break down the Coyotes’ season-long attendance numbers in the sport’s AA-level, the ECHL, you find they’d rank ninth overall, between the Idaho Steelheads (5,009 per game) and Utah Grizzlies (4,249).
Relief on the Horizon for the Coyotes?
The Coyotes’ short-term attendance logjam could end in the next few years, should the Tempe City Council sign off on a $2 billion development plan for a new arena and entertainment district on the southern banks of Tempe Town Lake.
The council members are slated to vote on the plan Nov. 29, though they could send the ultimate decision on whether to pass the arena to voters via a public referendum, which would be held at some point in 2023, according to Sportsnet.
The Coyotes hope to build a 46-acre entertainment district on the grounds of what’s currently a landfill near the intersection of Priest Drive and Rio Salado Parkway, complete with apartments, restaurants and other retail options.
The new arena, should it get the green light from Tempe’s City Council — and voters, if necessary — would have 16,000 seats, which would be the second smallest in the NHL, ahead of only Canada Life Centre in Winnipeg (15,321 seats). The Prudential Center in New Jersey (16,514) is currently the second-smallest venue in the NHL.
If the fate of a new arena was based on on-ice expectations, the Coyotes would be in trouble. Arizona betting apps give the team the worst Stanley Cup odds in the league at +50000.