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  • Sean MacDonald

Mullett Arena - Arizona Coyotes


Photos by Sean MacDonald, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.00

Mullett Arena

411 S Packard Drive

Tempe, AZ 85281


Arizona Coyotes website Mullett Arena website


Year Opened: 2022 Capacity: 4,600

 

Temporary in Tempe


The Arizona Coyotes were told two-years-ago, that they would not be welcome at their home rink, the Gila River Arena, for the 2022-23 campaign. This unceremonious eviction was the latest development in the saga that has defined the club since its inception. Although there are fully functional rinks in places like Quebec City and Houston, majority owner Alex Meruelo wants to keep the team in the desert, and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman agrees.


The reasons for this are varied and beyond the scope of this review, but whatever the case, the Coyotes needed to find new accommodations very quickly. While it is not feasible to build an entirely new venue in a year, returning to the Footprint Center in downtown Phoenix, where they played from 1996-2003, is also not feasible. Likewise, the aging Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum could not be used as a temporary venue due to its poor infrastructure, which would require considerable renovations.


Fortunately, there was a savior in the form of Arizona State University, which was finishing up construction of a new multi-purpose venue that would be ready for the 2022-23 season. The Coyotes reached an agreement with the school in February that would see them play there for three seasons while they worked on constructing their arena in Tempe. As an NCAA facility does not meet NHL standards, the Coyotes spent nearly $20 million on improvements in dressing rooms and other areas.


The Mullet Arena is named after university benefactors Donald and Barbara Mullett. It led to a few jokes, as a mullet is also a term for a hairstyle famous in hockey circles.


When the season got underway, the Coyotes embarked on a six-game road swing before returning to find that things weren't quite ready. Mullett’s first four NHL games saw the clubs dressing in temporary locker rooms in a community rink attached to the venue.


The facility was completed, while the Coyotes were away on a 14-game trip; They returned to start the home-heavy portion of their schedule in early December. Stadium Journey paid a visit at the end of the month to see how the experience measured up.


Note that this review is for an NHL venue, and Mullett Arena is an NCAA hockey rink. As such, the scores might be different between the two.


Food & Beverage 3


As you would expect with the relatively small building size, there are not that many concessions (five fixed stands to be exact), but there is still enough variety that most fans should find something satisfying. Prices are a little on the high side, which might leave some waiting until after the game to enjoy something in the area instead.


The most notable option is Shaq's Big Chicken, which has a couple of very tempting sandwiches, with the MDE crispy chicken version going for $12, while the spicier Uncle Jerome costs $13.50; there is also a simple cheeseburger for $13. The Neighborhood Burger Joint is another stand that sells a chicken tender basket for $15, the same price as a pair of beef sliders; add fries for $6.50.



Venetia’s Pizza has large slices (about a quarter of a pie) for $12 for basic cheese to $14 for the Hat Trick that comes with pepperoni, Canadian bacon, and sausage. For those looking for a healthier option, they also provide a Cobb salad for $12. These stands are all in different corners on Level 2 on the main concourse that circles above the seating bowl.


The other two concessions can be found on Level 1, accessed via stairwells at the east end of the main concourse. First is Sparky’s Hot Spot, whose menu is more like fine dining than stadium fare. For example, an inferno dog is a “Tapatio-infused all-beef cheddar dog with desert slaw and pico de gallo” ($8.50). A desert chicken cheesesteak is “cumin-dusted” and “drizzled with prickly pear hot sauce” ($11). A more common offering is steak nachos for $13. The Mullett Marketplace is a grab-and-go spot for those who want something light.


Cheaper, more common fare is located at most stands, with a Pitchfork dog (Arizona State’s nickname is the Sun Devils, and there is no change to signage when the Coyotes play) going for $6, while nachos and popcorn are $7 each.


You can bring sealed bottled water if you wish, but Coca-Cola provides bottled soda ($6) and water ($5). Draft beer isn’t available, but domestic bombers sell for $14, adding a buck for the premium variety. Vizzy Seltzers are also $15, while some portable stands have wine for $11.


Mullett Arena is a cashless venue, with all major credit cards and mobile pay options (Apple, Samsung, Google) accepted.


Atmosphere 4


As this is an NCAA venue, there is only one level of seating. At the west end, there are benches; this would be the student section when the Sun Devils are playing, but for the Coyotes, these are expensive seats. At the other end are a few folding chairs right next to the glass, while VIPs (Vince Vaughn was in attendance at the game I covered) get much more comfortable chairs.


Along the north side is a club area with an open bar and unlimited food and snacks; it is one of the best I have seen. Of course, you will not gain admittance without a club ticket, which means that you cannot do a full tour of the single concourse. Still, if you are looking to splurge, the club might be worth it. Looking at an upcoming game, a resale club seat is only $20 more than a resale regular seat, so if you have a beer and some food, it pays off right there.


On the south side along the concourse is a small display dedicated to Sun Devil hockey, including their 2014 national championship trophy, back when they were a club (non-varsity) team. There is also a display on Level 1 that features the Sun Devil coaching staff. As this is an ASU building, there is little for the Coyotes other than a couple of small team stores and the shared logo at the center ice.


There are suites on Level 3 along both sides that offer the best views of the ice. At the east end of this level is the Devil Deck, which is more of an open area for groups that do require a ticket.


The four-sided scoreboard is rather small for the league, but it does the job. There are your typical promotions, and cheerleaders can be found amongst the crowd, while Howler, the mascot, will beat a drum from time to time. There is also a drumline that stands above the student section and plays before the game and occasionally during breaks in the action.


With just 4,600 on hand and many supporting the visitors, things don’t get as loud as you would experience elsewhere in the league. At times, I forgot that I was at an NHL game. Still, the coziness and the fact that all fans are so close to the action does make it a unique experience, and one that cannot be found elsewhere in the Big 4.


Neighborhood 4


The Arizona State Campus is a vital part of Tempe, and as you would expect, there are plenty of bars and restaurants nearby. The intersection of University Avenue and Mill Avenue seems to be the hub of activity, though. There was not a lot going on on a Thursday night.


I walked north for a bit before heading back south and ending up at Zipps Sports Grill, where you can watch the end of the west coast games and enjoy a pint or two. There are also clubs and karaoke spots for the younger crowd.


Heading east from the arena is a Buffalo Wild Wings. Four Peaks Brewing Company is a bit farther and closes relatively early, particularly during the week when most Coyotes games take place.


There are several restaurants and breweries about a mile away from the building. The Shop Beer Co. on 1st Street and the Lodge Sasquatch Kitchen on Farmer Avenue are both excellent spots for pregame activities.


There are plenty of hotels within walking distance, and recommended if you want convenience; the Hyatt House/Hyatt Place combination is just a couple of minutes away and does not seem to increase rates for Coyotes games.


The NHL season covers most of the college sports seasons, and the ASU football, basketball, and baseball stadiums are a short walk away, so check the Sun Devils composite schedule to see if you can see more than just the Coyotes.


Fans 3


Even with a limited capacity, the Coyotes are not selling out, relying on visiting fans to fill the venue. Those in attendance are the true fans and are willing to fork over a lot of money to see a team that has yet to reach the Stanley Cup Finals in its 26 seasons in the desert. They also don’t take themselves too seriously and seem quite happy to chat up those visiting from other cities.


Access 4


The greater Phoenix area has one of the best light rail systems in the country, covering over 28 miles and going from north of downtown out to Mesa, with a stop just a few minutes away from Mullett Arena. There is also a connecting AirTrain to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, so you can go straight from your plane to the game (plus a stop at your hotel to drop off your luggage, as the arena has a no-bag policy). If you are staying in Tempe, there is a streetcar that also gets you very close to the stadium.


It is highly recommended to make use of public transit rather than drive and pay $30 for parking (which should be bought in advance). It is possible to find free parking a few blocks away, but transit is still a better option.


Inside, the single concourse does get crowded at times, and you can expect lines at concessions and restrooms, particularly during intermissions. There are standing areas at some points, allowing you more freedom of movement.


Download the Coyotes app in advance for more information on the arena and the gameday experience.


Return on Investment 2


Tickets can be expensive, as you would expect, with limited capacity. Price varies widely depending on the opponent, and when you add in TicketMaster fees, you can pay more than $300, which is too much for this club. The secondary market will see some deals, particularly as the season continues and the novelty wears off.


For example, an upcoming game with the Sharks starts at $100, with an all-inclusive club seat at just $120. So if you are not picky about the visiting team, you can get in for much less than when a premium club comes calling.


If you don't mind standing, SRO tickets are available for less, though only if the game sells out. Attendance is listed as 4,600 when sold out, and there is no way to tell how many SRO tickets were sold per game.


A game at the Mullett Arena can end up being costly. Plan and budget accordingly; however, it doesn’t have to be. Also, remember that flexibility will save you money.


Extras 1


All of the signage and extras are for Arizona State’s hockey program and thus do not count here. I will give a point for the giveaway on this night, which was the Coyotes reverse retro jersey, and it seems like other giveaways are equally impressive.


Final Thoughts


Overall, Mullett Arena provides a unique Big 4 experience that should attract fans who want something out of the ordinary. Yes, it is expensive, much like an exclusive club, but with only 123 regular season games played over the three seasons, attendance will be limited to 565,800 fans. If you want to be one of them, now is the time to travel to Tempe and visit the Mullett.






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