Bettman says Coyotes’ temporary home at Arizona State isn’t unprecedented

Commissioner Gary Bettman is pointing to NHL and NFL teams previously playing in smaller-than-usual, temporary venues as a reason why people shouldn’t panic about the Arizona Coyotes doing the same thing.

Speaking before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday, Bettman said the Coyotes’ move to a venue with fewer than 5,000 seats at Arizona State University is “not unprecedented.”

“When the Flames moved from Atlanta to Calgary, they played for a couple of years in a very small venue,” Bettman said. “When the Tampa Bay Lightning came into the league, they played in the Fairgrounds in a very small venue. The San Jose Sharks played in the Cow Palace while they were building the new arena in San Jose.

“And even the NFL, when they were doing the relocation recently to Los Angeles, (they) had an NFL team playing in a, I don’t know, 15-, or 20-000 seat soccer venue. You do what you have to do if you believe in a market long term.”

The NFL’s Los Angeles Chargers played at 27,000-seat Dignity Health Sports Park for their first three seasons in the city from 2017 to ’19 before moving to the 70,000-seat SoFi Stadium.

Earlier this month, Tempe City Council voted to open negotiations over a proposal for a new home for the Coyotes.

“Obviously, there’s some work to be done before we can get a shovel in the ground, but more of the reports I get, everybody’s doing what they need to be doing as efficiently as possible,” Bettman said.

The team plans to play for at least the next three seasons at the 4,700-seat ASU arena, beginning this fall.

The Coyotes, whose current arena lease at Gila River in Glendale is expiring on June 30, are seeking to build a new home for the club and their proposal would include an arena, hotels, apartments, retail stores and a sports book.