Phoenix files complaint over flight path concerns regarding Tempe sports complex

Phoenix sued Tempe, claiming it broke their long-time agreement with the proposed Coyotes entertainment complex.
Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 5:51 PM MST
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TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- The growing battle to find the Arizona Coyotes a permanent home is seeing more challenges. The city of Phoenix is taking legal action against Tempe regarding the proposed Coyotes entertainment district and arena. Officials said on Tuesday the Phoenix Aviation Department filed a complaint against Tempe over the proposed apartments and homes directly under Sky Harbor’s flight path. Phoenix is suing Tempe for breach of contract, asking the court to cancel Tempe’s mixed-use zoning and land use changes and ban any residential buildings from being built in the area.

“The Phoenix Aviation Department does not object to a sports arena, restaurants, shops, and other compatible uses related to the proposed Tempe Entertainment District,” said Phoenix Director of Aviation Services Chad Makovsky. “Today’s action is about ensuring Tempe lives up to its commitments to protecting our state’s largest economic engine – Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, the more than 57,000 employees and 44 million annual travelers who depend on the Airport, and the communities surrounding the Airport who depend on the long-standing agreement between our two cities.”

The $2 billion entertainment district was proposed to be built on 46 acres of land currently used as a landfill on the corner of Rio Salado Parkway and Priest Drive. However, the issue lies in a 1.2 square mile area, less than two miles from the airport runway. Officials claim the area is exposed to high noise levels from airplanes and unsuitable for housing. Lawyers cited a formal agreement between the two cities in 1994, where Tempe said no homes would be built under the flight path. Arizona’s Family previously reported that pilots were worried the buildings would be too high and restrict air traffic.

The city of Tempe said they are not providing comments currently. The pro-district group Tempe Wins released a statement to Arizona’s Family about the complaint.

Team and NHL officials previously said the project would be financed through private funds, but the team is asking for breaks on property and sales taxes. Developers would pay no property taxes on the buildings for 30 years. Tempe residents will vote on the proposal on May 16, but must be registered to vote by April 17.