The Arizona Coyotes have hired Nick Sakiewicz, former commissioner of the National Lacrosse League, to be the club’s first chief business officer.
Sakiewicz will lead the team’s sales and marketing efforts and will report to Coyotes president and CEO Xavier Gutierrez. The news comes just a few weeks after Sakiewicz stepped down from the NLL, which he lead for the past six years.
“Whether he is overseeing sports franchises, developing financing plans or supervising the construction of world-class stadiums, Nick Sakiewicz is a uniquely talented individual with a diverse set of skills that make him perfectly suited to take the Coyotes to the next level,” Gutierrez said in a statement.
Sakiewicz joins an NHL team that is undergoing major changes. The Coyotes are both the least valuable franchise in the NHL (at $410 million, according to Sportico) and among the lowest in attendance, but new owner Alexander Meruelo, who bought majority control in 2019, is trying to reverse those trends. Efforts include making inroads into the area’s large Hispanic population—Meruelo is the first Latino majority owner in NHL history—and a dedication to tech and innovation.
A new arena is a high priority. The team is currently in the final year of its lease at Gila River Arena in Glendale, about 15 miles from downtown Phoenix, but is looking to build a new long-term home in nearby Tempe. In the meantime, it plans to play home games starting next season at Arizona State University’s roughly 5,000-seat arena, which would be by far the smallest venue in the NHL.
Sakiewicz took over as NLL commissioner in 2016, and led the box lacrosse league through notable commercial growth. NLL revenue has grown 700% over the last five seasons, and franchise values have grown even faster. The NLL also expanded from nine to 14 teams, with a 15th set to debut next season.
Prior to joining the NLL, Sakiewicz was an executive at Major League Soccer and within the front offices of two different MLS clubs.