• Arizona
  • Thursday , Feb 1 , 2018

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4 minutes reading time (732 words)

Arizona Coyotes plan move to Tempe

"It's a location that we think is ideal. We're very excited. We think we have the right spot," said Andrew Barroway, the majority shareholder of the Arizona Coyotes.

Along with the arena, there will be an additional 4,000-seat multi-sport arena that will be used by Sun Devil Athletics, Coyotes practices, youth hockey practices and games and community events, the team said.

"We're putting our money where our mouth is. This is a huge investment for us," Barroway said. "And we're thrilled to partner with ASU."

The Coyotes said it will pay for about half of the $400 million project. The rest of money may come from tax credits, ASU, the City of Tempe or some other sort of public money.

The new 16,000-seat arena along Tempe Town Lake, which will be closer to the bulk of the team's fan base, is expected to be ready for the Coyotes to hit the ice for the 2019-'20 season.

"We would like to have shovels in the ground by next summer," said Anthony LeBlanc, president, CEO and co-owner of the Arizona Coyotes.

LeBlanc said the Coyotes will continue to play at Gila River Arena until the new facility is completed.

"We're going to build a world-class facility that our fans are going to be excited about and want to come to," Barroway said.

The agreement calls for a budget, design and operational plan to be finalized by June 30, 2017. The second phase of the project is expected to include a hotel and other amenities.

The @ArizonaCoyotes tweeted about the plans earlier in the day, following up with an artist rendering of the outside of the facility.

The 'Yotes currently call Gila River Arena in Glendale home, but the team's relationship with the city turned tense a few years ago. The city built and owns the facility.

While the Coyotes played in downtown Phoenix when they first came to Arizona from Winnipeg in 1996, the squad's home ice has been in Glendale since Gila River Arena opened across from University of Phoenix Stadium at the end of 2003. It was called as Jobing.com Arena back then.

For a long time, the Coyotes were waffling between "will they stay" and "will they go."

The NHL operated the team for four years. Headed by Barroway, IceArizona acquired the team in 2013, vowing to stay in Arizona. But the lease agreement between the City of Glendale and the franchise has been a constant source of challenges and threats.

In June 2015, the Glendale City Council voted to cancel the professional management services and lease agreement with IceArizona.

"What we have witnessed here tonight is possibly the most shameful exhibition of government I have ever witnessed," LeBlanc said after that meeting. "The citizens of Glendale should be very concerned about the government that they have leading them right now because this was not appropriate."

There was a time when it was thought that the City of Phoenix might try to convince the team to return to downtown.

In his State of the City address in January, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said he wanted to see three of the Valley's professional sports teams under one roof downtown.

"I, as Mayor, will do everything I can to pursue a course that makes a new facility home to the Suns, the Mercury, and the Coyotes," he said.

That, however, never went anywhere.

Moving forward

Although it was touch and go for awhile, the proposed new Tempe arena should cement the team's status as the Arizona Coyotes for years to come.

"Over the past year we have been exhaustive in our research regarding the most optimal location for our new home in the Valley," LeBlanc said. "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."

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