After years of uncertainty, there is finally a bright light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to the Arizona Coyotes and their arena situation. The team announced on Monday that they have reached an agreement with Arizona State University on a new 16,000-plus seat arena as well as an additional 4,000 seat facility that would serve as their practice facility among other uses, including the home of the University’s Division I hockey team. Craig Morgan of Arizona Sports adds that the goal is to have the arena, located within the district along Tempe Town Lake, ready for the 2019-20 NHL season.
Team President/CEO Anthony LeBlanc released the following statement regarding the new agreement:
“Over the past year we have been exhaustive in our research regarding the most optimal location for our new home in the Valley. While we have tremendous fans all across the greater Phoenix metro area, not to mention the entire state, it became clear that the East Valley is home to a majority of our fans and corporate partners. Our fans in the West Valley have shown us tremendous support over the past 13 years, and we look forward to working with them as we transition to our new home in the future.”
This puts an end to what has been a frustrating saga with their current arena in Glendale. The city entered into an agreement to build a new home for the Coyotes back in 2001 but relations have soured between the team and city officials since then. In 2013, the city voted to enter into a $15MM per year revenue sharing deal with the team that would allow Coyotes ownership to operate the facility but just two years later, they opted to terminate that contract, putting the Coyotes’ future in jeopardy. The team had been searching for a new home over the last few years, leading to plenty of speculation about potential relocation of the franchise.
In the meantime, the team is expected to negotiate an extension on their current short-term lease agreement to allow them to remain in Glendale until construction on the new arena in the East Valley is complete, writes ESPN’s Scott Burnside.
The Coyotes have until the end of June to finalize the budget, design, and operational plan for their new arena. The team declined to provide any specifics regarding the funding but LeBlanc stated that the team will be the primary investor while Arizona State will also contribute to the project. He also added that the plan is to not seek general funds from any government organization:
“We’re not looking for general funds from any governmental organization, but we need to form a very strong partnership with the State of Arizona and the City of Tempe. We also have to work with a variety of stakeholder groups such as Goldwater Institute and others so they understand what it is we’re trying to do. These projects have a process.”
The arena is expected to cost around $400MM, Morgan notes via Twitter.