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Coyotes plan to move AHL affiliate to Tucson

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Posted at 11:02 AM, Apr 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-19 14:02:18-04

If the Arizona Coyotes have their way, professional sports will soon return to the Old Pueblo.

On Tuesday, the Coyotes announced they reached an agreement to purchase the Springfield (Mass.) Falcons, the Coyotes' affiliate in the American Hockey League.

"The agreement is contingent upon AHL Board of Governor approval, finalizing closing conditions, and signing an arena lease agreement," the Coyotes said in a statement.

"Once approved, the Coyotes hope to play at Tucson Convention Center and are in conversations with the City and Rio Nuevo to relocate the franchise to Tucson, Arizona, beginning with the 2016-17 AHL season."

If approved, the Falcons would be Tucson's first pro sports franchise since the Triple-A Tucson Padres baseball team relocated to El Paso in 2013.

"Minor-league hockey has been part of the Tucson sports landscape off an on for decades: The Tucson Rustlers, Icemen and Mavericks all played there in the 1970s, and the Gila Monsters briefly occupied the arena in the late-1990s," Ryan Finley of the Arizona Daily Star noted.

Tucson Convention Center, which has a seating capacity of over 9,000, is the home of the Arizona Wildcats' ACHA hockey team.