Future of Coyotes arena, entertainment district lies in Tempe residents’ hands

The people of Tempe now get to decide if they want the proposed Coyotes arena and entertainment district in their neighborhood.
Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 9:39 PM MST|Updated: Nov. 30, 2022 at 10:34 PM MST

TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- The fate of the proposed Arizona Coyotes arena now lies in the hands of Tempe voters. On Tuesday night, the city council voted unanimously in favor of the project.

The $2.1 billion arena and entertainment district would be built on the corner of Rio Salado Parkway and Priest Drive at the end of Tempe Town Lake. Nearly 190,000 people live in Tempe, and only 2,104 signatures are needed to get this project on the ballot. “At the end of the day, May 16, 2023, our voters will make the decision,” said Tempe Mayor Corey Woods.

The people of Tempe now get to decide if they want the proposed Coyotes arena and entertainment district in their neighborhood. “I’m looking forward to our residents being active participants in this process,” Woods said.

The project would bring a 16,000-seat arena, two hotels, nearly 2,000 residential units, restaurants, and shopping. The Coyotes say their top priority now is getting those signatures. They’ve hired a professional firm to ensure it will be done properly.

The team’s president says they are turning a landfill into a landmark. “We understand there will be people who don’t agree, but we think the more people hear about it, the more they’ll support it,” said Xavier Gutierrez, President and CEO of the Arizona Coyotes.

As part of the deal, the City of Tempe is giving this project an eight-year tax break. “There are many projects around Tempe Town Lake right now and throughout Tempe, whether hotel deals or apartment deals, that have eight-year tax abatements, so frankly, that’s nothing new,” Woods said.

One woman who lives in Tempe and owns a small business there feels more dire needs in the city are being overlooked. “What this is going to do is drive away the people that need to be able to live and work here,” Dawn Penich-Thacker said. “We have a huge problem with not enough affordable housing. We have a homelessness issue getting worse and worse. Traffic is terrible.”

The hockey club says they plan to agree to stay in that spot for 30 years. Tempe’s mayor feels the project has and will continue to be a hot topic. “I expect to see high voter turnout,” Woods said.

We are expecting more information Thursday about the next steps from Tempe voters. In the meantime, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said if the project goes forward, the league has committed to bringing an All-Star or NHL draft to Tempe.