HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – Could Arizona’s loss be Connecticut’s gain?
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) will meet with National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman to discuss relocating the Arizona Coyotes to Hartford, Nexstar’s WTNH has learned.
News of the governor’s plan comes after voters in Tempe, Arizona, rejected a referendum to build a new arena for the Coyotes in their home city.
Moving the Coyotes to Connecticut might still be a long shot, as the team wouldn’t have a new, state-of-the-art arena in Hartford, either. The Hartford XL Center, however, has a capacity of over 16,000, whereas Mullet Arena in Tempe — the Coyotes’ current home — holds around 5,000 fans.
Connecticut was previously home to the NHL’s Hartford Whalers until 1997 when the team relocated to North Carolina and became the Carolina Hurricanes.
“Governor Lamont has reached out to the NHL and requested a meeting with commissioner Gary Bettman because he wants to emphasize how serious Hartford and Connecticut are about hosting a team,” the governor’s office wrote of Lamont’s plans. “The governor believes this is a great market for the NHL, particularly because Connecticut has thousands of hockey fans who remain passionate about the beloved Whalers and are ready and eager to support a new team. The governor looks forward to highlighting these points with the commissioner.”
Connecticut’s House Speaker Matt Ritter also issued a statement, offering his support.
“I spoke to the governor today about the NHL meeting and offered whatever support he needs to make a strong pitch,” Ritter wrote in a statement to WTNH. “I know he is very serious about this, and I personally think Hartford and Connecticut would welcome this team with unrivaled passion.”