Tempe City Council votes 7-0 in favor of planned Arizona Coyotes arena, entertainment district

The Arizona Coyotes are close to securing their new long-term home in the desert.

On Tuesday night, the Tempe City Council voted 7-0 in favor of the Coyotes’ proposed 16,000-seat arena and surrounding entertainment district. Overall, the project is expected to cost $2.1 billion.

The board vote indicates Tempe management’s view of the proposal. The next (and potentially final) step in the approval process is a referendum, with the citizens of Tempe expected to vote on the issue on May 16, 2023.

The Coyotes currently play at the 4,600-seat Mullett Arena on the campus of Arizona State University. They are looking to build their proposed entertainment district about two miles west of ASU at the northeast corner of Rio Salado Parkway and Priest Drive.

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The city of Tempe present an analysis at Tuesday’s council meeting suggesting taxpayers will owe $209 million to $229 million in bonds to fund public infrastructure improvements, such as remediating the future arena site (currently used as a compost yard), creating new roads and reinforcing the banks of the adjacent Salt River.

A host of Coyotes representatives — including owner Alex Meruelo, CEO Xavier Gutierrez, general manager Bill Armstrong and longtime captain Shane Doan — spoke at Tuesday’s board session. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was also in attendance and answered questions from the media.

As part of his comments during the session, Bettman confirmed the Coyotes are willing to sign a 30-year non-relocation agreement if the proposal goes ahead. He also said the league would bring a draft or all-star game to the new Tempe arena.

The Coyotes previously played at Gila River Arena (now Desert Diamond Arena) in Glendale, a remote suburb of Phoenix, from 2003 to 2022. The City of Glendale elected to terminate its lease with the team on the eve of the 2021-22 season.

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After the board’s unanimous vote, the Coyotes shared a statement on social media calling the proposed entertainment district a « huge win » for the community that will turn a « landfill into a landmark. »

The Coyotes (7–10–3) played to sold-out crowds in each of their first four games of the season at Mullett Arena. They are currently in the midst of an NHL-record 14-game road trip and will return to ASU — with an NHL-standard locker room finally built — to face the Boston Bruins on Dec. 9.

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