Arizona Coyotes say they have 6 possible sites for an arena in the Phoenix area
The Arizona Coyotes have identified a half-dozen potential sites for an arena in the Phoenix metropolitan area
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Arizona Coyotes say they have identified a half-dozen potential sites to construct a privately funded arena and entertainment district to revive what might be the franchise’s last opportunity to stay in the Phoenix area.
Speaking before the start of the NHL draft, president and CEO Xavier Gutierrez said each of the sites are located in the east valley in the 101 Highway corridor that covers the cities of Scottsdale, Phoenix, and Mesa. Just as important, he said each of the locations would be available to be purchased, which would negate the need for a public referendum, which scuttled the Coyotes plans to build a similar complex in Tempe last month.
“We still want to put our money where our mouth is and build something that’ll be best in class,” said Gutierrez, whose team is prepared to play its second season at a 5,000-seat college rink on Arizona State’s campus.
“To all the fans, we are committed to making this happen,” he added. “We were disappointed with the vote in Tempe, but we turned the page very quickly.”
The Coyotes ever-unstable future in Arizona took another hit after voters overwhelmingly voted “no” to the proposed $2.3 billion Tempe Entertainment District. The referendum was required because the project was to be built on public land.
Gutierrez said many of the sites were identified were previously considered but passed over, believing the Tempe location would be approved. He added, the plans prepared for the now-rejected Tempe location can be used for the other sites without major changes.
In laying out a loose timeline, Gutierrez expects to present the league one or more options by early 2024, which is in line with recent expectations raised by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, who wants an answer by midseason.
“The NHL has not given us any (deadlines),” Gutierrez said. “We have been in constant communication with them about all of the options that we have. They feel very confident that we’re doing the right thing.”
The Coyotes have been committed to playing at their current home for two more seasons, with an option for a fourth, which would still be within the timeframe to build a new arena on a new location.
The Coyotes arena status drew criticism from newly hired NHL Players' Association chief Marty Walsh, who recently called it "not good for the game."
Gutierrez didn’t entirely disagree while stressing their current home has always been considered as being temporary.
“I understand his commentary. We share the fact that it is a temporary location, and we’ve never tried to hide that fact,” he said.
Bettman earlier this month reaffirmed the league's commitment to Arizona and voiced optimism about keeping the Coyotes there.
“The Arizona Coyotes are going to explore what their other options are in the greater Phoenix area, and we’re going to monitor that closely," Bettman said in Las Vegas prior to the start of the Stanley Cup Final. "Our hope is that one of the options that are being explored and considered will come to fruition.”