Ryan Smith appears to confirm Coyotes’ move to Utah

Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith all but confirmed the worst-kept secret in hockey on Wednesday: He is set to purchase the Arizona Coyotes and move them to Salt Lake City.

Speaking at the World Congress of Sports in Los Angeles, Smith said, according to Sports Business Journal, “There’s no secret on what’s out there online. Normally, not everything on the internet is true, but in this case, it’s pretty true.”

Sportsnet reported that the NHL’s Board of Governors will meet on Thursday to approve the team’s sale and relocation.

Smith spoke at the Los Angeles event a day after NHL commissioner Gary Bettman did so.

On Tuesday, Bettman said of the Coyotes, per SBJ, “We’re exploring options as to how to deal with (the arena situation) because, particularly for the players, it isn’t an ideal circumstance. I know there’s a lot of rumors and speculation and, when we have something to announce, we’ll do it. But we are exploring our options.”

Multiple media outlets reported last week that the franchise was about to be sold ahead of a move to Utah.

On Wednesday night, the Coyotes concluded their second season of playing home games at 5,000-seat Mullett Arena on the Arizona State University campus in Tempe, Ariz.

Earlier this month, Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo unveiled a plan to buy a 110-acre site in Phoenix and build a privately funded arena. However, Bettman acknowledged that the timeline for that potential venue to be ready was prompting the NHL to explore other options for the club.

The league is prepared to buy the team from Meruelo for $1 billion before reselling it to Ryan Smith and his wife, Ashley Smith, for $1.2 billion to $1.3 billion, according to SBJ. The amount above $1 billion would be split among the other teams as a relocation fee, per the report. Meruelo also reportedly would receive a chance to purchase an expansion team when the Phoenix arena is operational.