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Jazz owner confirms pending Coyotes sale: 'It's pretty true'

Alex Goodlett / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The Arizona Coyotes' impending relocation has been widely reported, but the man who appears to be acquiring the team has now essentially provided confirmation.

"There's no secret on what's out there online," Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith said Wednesday at the World Congress of Sports, according to Sports Business Journal's Alex M. Silverman. "Normally, not everything on the internet is true, but in this case, it's pretty true."

The NHL's Board of Governors will meet Thursday at 3 p.m. ET to vote on the sale, per Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman.

On Saturday night, Friedman reported that the NHL plans to buy the Coyotes from owner Alex Meruelo for $1 billion, then sell them to Smith for $1.2 billion. Arizona's hockey operations staff would relocate to Salt Lake City with the Coyotes, and Meruelo would have five years to secure a new arena, at which point he'd be granted a team of his own if he's successful.

On Friday, Friedman said the players were informed before that night's win over the Edmonton Oilers that the club is moving to Utah.

Two days before that, ESPN's Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski reported the league was prepping a contingency plan that could move the Coyotes to the Beehive State for next season.

No deal for the sale of the franchise has yet been finalized.

Arizona's last game of the season is Wednesday night against the Oilers at Mullett Arena, the 5,000-seat NCAA building the team was forced to move into for the 2022-23 campaign after its lease at Gila River Arena in Glendale - now known as Desert Diamond Arena - expired.

Smith is also the co-owner of MLS' Real Salt Lake. He's a 45-year-old billionaire who co-founded Qualtrics, an experience management company based in Provo, Utah.

This isn't the first time he's acknowledged the possibility of landing an NHL squad. Earlier this month, Smith asked fans for team name ideas.

In January, Smith submitted a formal request to the NHL to bring a franchise to Utah. He's been beating that drum since last June when he told The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun that "hockey would thrive here." NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly acknowledged at the time that the league had spoken to Smith about his interest.

The original Winnipeg Jets relocated to Phoenix to become the Coyotes in 1996.

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