Arizona Coyotes in Talks With Tempe on New Arena, Signaling Possible Move to East Valley

Article originally posted on AZ Central on July 22, 2021

The Arizona Coyotes are in talks with Tempe to relocate the hockey franchise from Glendale to the East Valley, according to sources close to the city.

Tempe is expected to issue a request for proposals Thursday to attract a professional sports franchise and a developer that will build an arena and entertainment center on a narrow strip of city-owned land near Priest Drive and Rio Salado Parkway, sources said.

The land, on the southern banks of the dry Salt River just west of Tempe Town Lake, currently houses the city’s public works and compost yard. The land is viewed as prime real estate in the center of metro Phoenix but would require environmental remediation.

The Coyotes — owned by billionaire Alex Meruelo since 2019 — is expected to submit a proposal to build an arena and shopping and dining complex.

The National Hockey League team plays with a year-to-year lease at Gila River Arena in Glendale, which it has called home since 2003.

Glendale officials have sought a longer lease deal, but the franchise has long wanted an arena closer to its fan base in the East Valley. Negotiations with the team are ongoing, a Glendale official said.

Rumors of the team leaving Arizona or moving to another venue in metro Phoenix have circulated since at least 2009 when the team was filed into bankruptcy. Even afterward, the Coyotes struggled financially and with its lease at the arena built by Glendale.

Tempe deal calls for arena, entertainment complex

Coyotes officials have been meeting with Tempe leaders for at least two years.

City Council calendars obtained by The Arizona Republic in a public records request show at least one council member met with team officials in January 2020.

Private investors would fund the arena and commercial space, a source said.

Tempe would be on the hook for the multi-million dollar cost to remediate the land and add infrastructure. A city report put that cost at $70 million but it is unclear if that would include infrastructure costs. The city would cover those costs by creating a special taxing district to collect sales taxes on purchases within the sports and entertainment development, a source said.