Arizona Coyotes owner intends to buy land in Mesa for possible sports arena

FILE - Fans watch as players warm up prior to the Arizona Coyotes' home-opening NHL hockey...
FILE - Fans watch as players warm up prior to the Arizona Coyotes' home-opening NHL hockey game against the Winnipeg Jets at the 5,000-seat Mullett Arena in Tempe, Ariz., Oct. 28, 2022. The Coyotes say owner Alex Meruelo has executed a letter of intent to buy a piece of land for a potential arena in Mesa, Arizona. The move comes months after voters in Tempe rejected a referendum to construct an arena there for the NHL club. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)(Ross D. Franklin | AP)
Published: Aug. 9, 2023 at 8:32 AM MST|Updated: Aug. 9, 2023 at 10:50 AM MST
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MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- After missing out on bringing a potential sports arena and entertainment district to Tempe, the Arizona Coyotes organization isn’t backing down. On Wednesday, the club announced Alex Meruelo, Coyotes owner, chairman and governor, intends to buy a parcel of land in Mesa to be the next potential site for a sports arena and entertainment district.

In late June, the Coyotes said they identified six possible sites for the potential arena. President and CEO Xavier Gutierrez said each of those sites was located in the East Valley near the Loop 101 but didn’t give a specific location. However, sources previously told Arizona’s Family the old site of the Fiesta Mall could be the next home of the Coyotes.

If the land is purchased, it would cancel out the need for a public referendum, which failed the Tempe sports district plans in May. The team plays at Mullett Arena at ASU, currently in its second year as part of a three-year-agreement. However, Mullet Arena only seats 5,000 people. New NHL Players’ Association executive director Marty Walsh has raised concerns about the situation there and said the union would like the team to figure out a sustainable long-term solution.

In May, Tempe voters overwhelmingly rejected the proposed $2.1 billion entertainment district and arena. That complex was proposed to be built on 46 acres of public land currently used as a landfill near Rio Salado Parkway and Priest Drive. However, the plan experienced pushback from the City of Phoenix and Sky Harbor Airport, who said apartments would be in a high-noise area because of the airport and other parts of the project would be built less than two miles from the airport runway. Supporters for the project said it would’ve brought 7,000 jobs to the area.

Bettman previously reaffirmed the league’s commitment to Arizona, where the team moved to in 1996 from Winnipeg. The team has since played in three different arenas, initially in downtown Phoenix, then Glendale and Tempe.

The Coyotes issued the statement below:

The Coyotes thanked those who voted yes and said the future of the team is to be determined.

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