Las Vegas Coyotes - Franchise History - Relocation To Las Vegas

Relocation To Las Vegas

After spending the 1997 season in dormancy and a failed attempt to move the team to Phoenix, Arizona, the Coyotes organization announced that the team would move to Las Vegas, Nevada for the 1998 season and play at the Thomas & Mack Center, the former home of the RHI's Las Vegas Flash in 1994. The Coyotes were set to make their return to the RHI, when the league announced that it was going to suspend the 1998 season in order to make a public stock offering and raise money for a season in 1999. The Coyotes, who had planned to play at the Thomas & Mack Center, announced that they planned to play their games at a proposed 6,500-seat sports facility in North Las Vegas named The Millennium. The Coyotes and the RHI would return for a season in 1999, with the Coyotes playing in the four team Western Conference with RHI stalwarts Anaheim and the San Jose Rhinos, along with the expansion Dallas Stallions. The RHI would be an eight team league for 1999, with the Eastern Conference hosting former RHI clubs Buffalo Wings, Minnesota Blue Ox and St. Louis Vipers, along with the expansion Chicago Bluesmen. Prior to their inaugural season in Las Vegas, the Coyotes switched venues for a second time, opting to play at the 1,500-seat Ice Arena at the Sante Fe Hotel in northwest Las Vegas, and announced that they would be led by former Las Vegas Thunder head coach Chris McSorley. After sweeping a four-game road trip to start the season, the Coyotes lost their home opener 4–3 in a shootout against San Jose in front of more than 1,200 spectators. Though the Coyotes were impressive in the rink, posting a 9–0–1 record in their first ten games, the team was not drawing well and was one of five teams in the eight-team league that were unable to average attendance of at least 1,000 per game.

As the season moved on, the Coyotes posted an 16–7–3 record, finishing in second place in the Western Conference and earning a berth in the Murphy Cup playoffs, all while the team suffered through lack of coverage from the local media. At the Murphy Cup playoffs in Anaheim, the Coyotes lost in the Division Semifinals to San Jose, 6–5. Following the season, the team looked to move from the Santa Fe Ice Arena, possibly to the All-American Sports Park off the south side of the Las Vegas Strip, but the plan never came to fruition. The Coyotes would not return to the rink as the league suspended the 2000 season and finally ceased operations in 2001.

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