As the Utah Hockey Club continues its offseason of change, the wait continues for clarity surrounding the future home stadium of the Arizona Coyotes.

After selling the team in April, Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo promised to secure land in north Phoenix for a new venue at an auction that was originally scheduled for Thursday but canceled Friday. The abrupt cancellation of the auction marks yet another major bump in the road for a franchise that has experienced disappointment in securing its own home since moving to the desert.

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The land located north of Loop 101 and Scottsdale Road was set to become a central hub for hockey in Arizona, with plans to build a 17,000-seat arena and entertainment district for Phoenix and Scottsdale. But in their latest effort to make progress, the Coyotes reportedly failed to bring on a zoning attorney to assist them with their building permits, causing concern for the Arizona State Land Department, according to the Arizona Republic.

Ultimately, the ASLD felt it was best to cancel the auction and “reorder the steps” to ensure a proper bidder was in place.

“The organization has worked in good faith with the ASLD and has been on track to win the auction next week until the sudden reversal by ASLD today,” the Coyotes said in a statement, adding that the cancellation of the auction meant the state was forgoing “millions, potentially billions, of dollars that would have gone directly to K-12 education.”

“The Arizona Coyotes are exploring all our legal options given this shortsighted decision by the state,” the statement continued.

Phoenix councilman Jim Waring directed the blame at Meruelo.

“Get a zoning attorney,” Waring told the Arizona Republic. “They don’t have one. Get in the city, come up with a plan and go through the process. Then buy it.”

“If they had that attorney from the start and that attorney realized that they needed this permit then they could have gone that direction and not let the auction get canceled a week before,” said Leah Merrall, a PHNX Sports digital content manager and PHNX hockey host. “It was shocking to them that the auction was canceled a week out but I feel it is their responsibility to do the due diligence to make sure everything they need before an auction like this is done.”

Since the city of Glendale demanded the franchise pay $1.3 million owed for unpaid taxes in December 2021, Meruelo has scrambled to find a permanent home since leaving Gila River Arena. The latest snag presents another delay after NHL commissioner Gary Bettman forced the sale of a team to Smith Entertainment Group in Salt Lake City, Utah, for over $1 billion. However, Meruelo still owns the rights to the franchise.

The team’s previous home setup at the 5,000-seat Mullett Arena located on Arizona State University’s Tempe campus did not meet the league’s standards and lost revenue for the franchise and league. Under agreement with the NHL, the Coyotes’ move to Tempe was meant to be short-term as long as a proposal was made to build a new arena. An arena in Tempe was proposed last May, but voters ultimately rejected ballot measuresthat would have allowed the team to follow through on their plans for the arena and entertainment district.

Following the rejection of the Tempe arena proposal, the Coyotes shifted their focus to north Phoenix. Meruelo’s latest agreement with the league gives him five years to build a new arena and reactivate the franchise.

“The Tempe vote was the next big step in the process,” Merrall said. “However, we all know what happened, and it didn’t end up that way.”

The large stretch of land in north Phoenix had been appraised at around $70 million. The franchise was given the go-ahead to attempt the bid for the land when the auction was posted.

On April 4, the Coyotes promised the city and the NHL that they would win and begin a three-year process to build a new stadium and entertainment district. The auction was set for Thursday due to rules that required the land to be available for at least 10 weeks.

With no players or staff, Meruelo and the Coyotes had full focus going into this week’s auction. The plan was in place, and Meruelo was set to make the winning bid.

“They have every right to be frustrated behind closed doors,” Merrall said. “But as a public statement, it was accusatory. It was finger-pointing … If they want to get this done, then they need cooperation from the city and the government officials. Threatening legal action is not the way to do that.”