Coyotes Officials Have Reportedly Toured Portland, Seattle for Possible Move

Joe Pantorno@@JoePantornoFeatured ColumnistFebruary 8, 2017

GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 27:  The Phoenix Coyotes logo is seen on the ice before the NHL game against  the Dallas Stars at Jobing.com Arena on November 27, 2009 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Officials from Portland, Oregon, and Seattle told Darrell Jackson of the Glendale Star that Arizona Coyotes officials have toured the cities' arenas over the past three months while searching for potential destinations for relocation.

However, team executive vice president of communications Rich Nairn told Jackson those reports are not true.

Team president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc released a statement on the reports on Thursday, denying the team was looking to leave Arizona: 

Recent reports by the Glendale Star  that the Coyotes ownership group has explored arena options outside the Arizona market are completely false. The Star  referenced an anonymous arena source and an anonymous Coyotes source, and these are a fabrication.

The Coyotes are focused on creating one of the most taxpayer-friendly facilities in the country here in the Valley. This new arena will pay for itself, create jobs and generate millions of dollars of revenue for the state, county and municipality where it's built. We are fully committed to Arizona.

Relocation rumors have cropped up once again after Arizona State University pulled out of a potential deal to back the Coyotes' quest to build a new 16,000-seat arena in Tempe, Arizona, on Feb. 3, per Anne Ryman of AZCentral.com.

The Coyotes currently play at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona, but their lease is up after the 2017-18 season. Team president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc told Jessica Boehm of AZCentral.com that Glendale "simply is no longer an option."

Outside of Arizona, the two arenas that were believed to have been looked at by Coyotes officials were the Moda Center in Portland and the KeyArena Seattle, per Jackson. 

The Moda Center is home of the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers and has been linked to the Coyotes since 2013. In 2015, it came up again when the city of Glendale voted to cancel the team's 15-year, $225 million lease with Gila River Arena that it signed back in 2013. 

Seattle hasn't been too far behind in its quest for not only an NHL but NBA franchise, but KeyArena still has to be renovated to welcome big-time tenants, via Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times

KeyArena was the former home of the NBA's Seattle SuperSonics, who moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder in 2008.

The NHL is already preparing for expansion with the introduction of the Vegas Golden Knights for the 2017-18 season. But the league has expressed in the past, as early as 2013, its desire to place a franchise in the Pacific Northwest. 

Relocation is also nothing new to the Coyotes franchise. Prior to their 1996-97 debut season, they were the NHL's original Winnipeg Jets from 1979 to 1996.