Arizona Coyotes, Tempe move forward in arena talks

Arizona Coyotes, Tempe move forward in arena talks

The Arizona Coyotes and the city of Tempe will continue negotiations on a new arena and entertainment district after the city council voted 5-2 in favor of the bid Thursday night.

“We would like to thank everyone who came out to show their support for this project, this organization and this vision,” said Xavier A. Gutierrez, President and CEO of the Coyotes. “We know this is Stage 1 and we know the board has made it clear that this is starting that process and we’re very excited about it.”

The Coyotes are looking to build an arena on city-owned land at Rio Salado Parkway and Priest Drive on the west end of Lake Tempe Town. They called Glendale home from 2003 until last season, but their lease at Gila River Arena was not renewed. The Coyotes will play in an arena on the Arizona State University campus, with a capacity of approximately 5,000 spectators, for at least the next three years.

The Tempe project was estimated at $1.7 billion and includes restaurants, shops, apartments and a new hockey arena on a 40-acre site.

“Tonight is the night to give thanks and be humble and grateful. The work starts tomorrow,” Gutierrez said. “We think this project is incredibly compelling. We think this is an iconic and transformative project for the city of Tempe.”

The city council meeting brought together supporters and opponents of the project. Coyotes players Christian Fischer, Clayton Keller and Nick Schmaltz spoke in favor of the bid. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman called the meeting to approve the plan “without reservations” but said there would be a 30-year “no-move agreement” required in any arena deal.

Chierstin Susel of PHNX Sports reported that the NHL has also promised an NHL All-Star Game and an NHL Draft at the new building if approved.

“People have to feel like they have the right to come out and say what they want to say,” said Shane Doan, former Coyotes star and the team’s head of hockey development. “I don’t want to do it anymore. I want it to be over. I want it to move in the right direction.”

Now comes what should be months of discussions about the arena project. Nothing is ever guaranteed for the Coyotes, who have weathered more than a decade of arena and ownership drama, but the team said it was an important step toward a new home.

“It’s a great night. They should absolutely be excited,” Gutierrez said. “This is the first step in something that we know has a big vision and a big opportunity to truly be the home that all of these fans and our fans-in-waiting have deserved.”

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