NHL Relocation: Rating Potential Cities

Photo Credit: Norm Hall/Getty Images

As the NHL continues to try to find new markets, the new focus seems to be the Arizona Coyotes. The Coyotes have struggled to keep a home in Arizona, and are currently playing at Mullet Arena, at Arizona State University. Their proposal for a new arena in Tempe was not supported by voters. This leaves them without a home in Arizona for the foreseeable future. With relocation seeming like a likely option, let’s take a look at the cities who have the best chance to land their own NHL franchise.

Top Cities for NHL Relocation

Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City starts off our NHL relocation story. This might be the quickest available option. Salt Lake City currently has the Utah Jazz as well as an MLS franchise, with solid fanbases for each team. They’re the top option on this list, mainly because of this tweet:

Ryan Smith is the owner of the Utah Jazz, so him saying a plan for hockey in Salt Lake City exists is relatively important. However, there could be some issues. For example, the city is not a sizeable market. If SLC was to get a team, they’d be the third-smallest TV market in the league.

Still, a move here makes a lot of sense. They have a capable arena and an owner who is far from a stranger to the NHL. The city would welcome a new team. The Salt Lake City Coyotes would make a lot of sense.


Sacramento is an interesting city on this list. The city has been mostly irrelevant in the sports landscape in recent memory. Currently, the city has the Sacramento Kings as their only major sports team, although they have a minor league soccer and baseball team, as well.

During the Kings’ recent playoff run, Sacramento did gain some recognition with electric atmospheres night in and night out, especially in the playoffs. The city has a rabid fanbase. They don’t have a hockey-ready arena at the moment, but the city was able to build a brand new basketball arena recently. There’s hope that something could be reached there.

Due to the lack of an arena, Sacramento likely won’t be the first option. Still, they might be a dark horse candidate if the first options don’t work out.


Given the sheer size of the market here, Houston has to be factored in. Hockey in Texas seems awkward, at first. However, the Dallas Stars are an example of a good hockey culture that could be carved out in a region that doesn’t exactly seem like a hockey town.

H-town currently has the Texans, Astros, and Rockets. Each of those three teams has sizeable fanbases, and the town is one of the five largest metro areas in the nation. It’s somewhat surprising there’s no NHL team here already. Houston might just be the best option on this list.


Portland is another city that makes sense. The city currently only has the Trail Blazers and the Timbers in the NBA and MLS, respectively. The city also currently has a huge fan base for both teams, so it should be expected that their NHL franchise would have the same luck.

One big factor here would be the NHL’s willingness to add a third team to the Pacific Northwest. The Canucks and the Kraken both have established fanbases in the region. The NHL might be worried there isn’t enough room for the third team. However, it’s possible, and maybe even likely, that a franchise in Portland would create an instant rival with those two teams, as well.

Kansas City

The main reason Kansas City is on this list is because of the intense fan support for the Chiefs and Royals. Both teams have had their ups and downs in recent memory. Still, through the highs and lows, the atmosphere in each stadium has been incredible.

While many don’t realize it because the city doesn’t have an NHL or NBA team, they do have a hockey-ready arena. The T-Mobile Center is a beautiful event center, and it has housed a hockey team before. A relocation here would have instant fan-support, and could also create a rivalry with the St. Louis Blues. This should be one of the first cities considered for NHL relocation.

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