The NHL is moving the team now formerly known as the Arizona Coyotes to Utah to begin play as a new franchise next season, the league announced Thursday.

Ryan and Ashley Smith of Smith Entertainment Group bought the team and its existing hockey assets for $1.2 billion from Alex Meruelo, sources told ESPN. Meruelo had owned the Coyotes since buying the franchise for $300 million in 2019, but the league lost patience in his ability to find a long-term arena solution in Arizona and facilitated a sale.

The Smiths, who also own the NBA’s Utah Jazz, initially built a relationship with commissioner Gary Bettman because they wanted an expansion franchise. However, over the past several months, the conversation changed and Bettman approached the Smiths about becoming a solution for the Coyotes instead.

According to Ryan Smith, things pivoted fast.

“I mean, if you would’ve told me at the beginning of the year that this is where we’d be, I’d say you were crazy,” he told ESPN. “It was more of: ‘Can you guys pull this off? Can you really pull it off?’ It looks like [the Coyotes’] situation’s going to be a little longer than everyone anticipated, and [the NHL] kind of had an issue. So our response is very much like, we want to be part of the league. We think we bring a lot. We think we can add a lot. We think we can give back more than we take and help grow the sport.

“It’s unprecedented. This is a different process. I don’t think anyone’s ever done it or seen it. But we’re in. We’re all-in. And I have a lot of faith in the people in Utah and how they show up for things.”

The sale was approved at a virtual NHL board of governors meeting Thursday afternoon.

“As everyone knows, Utah is a vibrant and thriving state, and we are thrilled to be a part of it,” Bettman said in a statement Thursday. “We are also delighted to welcome Ashley and Ryan Smith to the NHL family and know they will be great stewards of the game in Utah. We thank them for working so collaboratively with the league to resolve a complex situation in this unprecedented and beneficial way.”

The Coyotes’ final home game at Mullett Arena on Wednesday night was emotional, with players and staff members pouring onto the ice for photos after a win against the Edmonton Oilers.