Arizona Coyotes' arena drama continues
The hopes of a new arena on ASU property has died when ASU withdrew their partnership | Source: Arizona Coyotes

Arizona Coyotes' arena drama continues

Just when it looked like the Arizona Coyotes were on the verge of an agreement to partner with ASU on a new arena, the wheels fell off the deal.

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William Grigsby

On Friday evening, Arizona Coyotes President and CEO Anthony LeBlanc told azcentral.com: "Unfortunately, it appears the ASU deal will not being moving forward."

"We will continue to explore other options that will ensure a successful future for the team and our fans. We're a determined bunch — on the ice and off the ice. We intend to do everything we can to keep NHL hockey here in Arizona," he said.

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LeBlanc has made it known that the team is not interested in continuing to play at Gila River arena, which opened in 2003 and still has about $145 million left before it is paid off. The projected timeline of the arena payoff will be in 2033.

The hard feelings between the city of Glendale and the Coyotes occurred in 2015 when the city decided it didn't like the 15-year, $15 million agreement it signed with the team to manage the arena. The city abruptly terminated that deal and hired another company to manage the arena, in effect terminating their lease with the hockey team. 

Subsequently, the two feuding parties agreed on a two-year lease, which is due to expire at the conclusion of the 2017-18 season. 

New east valley arena plans

Sen. Bob Worsley, R-Mesa has presented legislation for a 28-acre "community engagement district" with ice rinks for the Coyotes, and the ASU hockey teams could have used. The projected site covers 330 acres south of Tempe Town Lake.

Worsley sponsored the bill Senate Bill 1474 in an effort to keep the Coyotes in Arizona. The financing of the facility would not drain the state's general fund.

The plan to finance the project was to allow ASU to provide the land. The Coyotes pledged to contribute $170 million in cash, as well as $65 million from private financing. The city of Tempe would kick in $90 million from a capital bond.

Rep. Kern held a press conference stating he thinks the Coyotes should remain in Glendale. (Photo: Jessica Boehm/The Republic)
Rep. Kern held a press conference stating he thinks the Coyotes should remain in Glendale. Source: Jessica Boehm - The Republic

Now, Worsley has stated that the bill can be amended, but there is opposition to the bill. Rep. Anthony Kern, R-Glendale, held a Monday news conference at the Capitol with West Valley leaders to oppose the plan. 

The tone was Kern wanted the Coyotes to remain to play at Gila River arena even though the team's ownership has made it perfectly clear that is not their intention.

Craig Morgan of AZsports.com explained the situation on Burns and Gambo's radio show.

Where else can an arena be built?

Another possible site would be partnering with the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, in the concept of building a 20,000-seat multi-purpose event center south of the Scottsdale Pavilions and west of Loop 101. That particular site is not a front runner on the Coyotes' list. 

Arizona Sports previously reported an interest in a site near the Chicago Cubs’ spring training facility at Riverview Park in Mesa, less than two miles from the proposed ASU site. The Coyotes have also kicked around the idea of using tribal land along the Loop 101 corridor.

The much talked about partnership with the Suns for a dual-purpose downtown arena housing both the Coyotes and the Suns needs Suns owner Robert Sarver to sign on, and so far he seems rather cold about that concept. That arrangement would not be conducive on the revenue side for the Coyotes since the Suns would be the primary tenant providing them with perks the Coyotes couldn't get.

What's the solution?

This turn of events seems so typical for what the team and its' fans have had to swallow for quite some time now. First, the team was having ownership problems after being run by the NHL for four years. Then, in 2013 IceArizona came forward and purchased the team and had Andrew Barroway join the ownership group. 

Perhaps, one of the other arena option locations will work, but for now, the rumors are already swirling that team is relocating to Portland or Seattle. That kind of talk is definitely old, and the loyal hockey fans of the valley are sick and tired of it.... and frankly deserve better.

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