Tempe Streetcar routes could be extended to a proposed Arizona Coyotes arena, but numerous issues need to be addressed.
As the Coyotes lobby for a new arena in Tempe, which would be located on Arizona State University’s Karsten Golf Course, are officials are simultaneously trying to put together the final pieces of the Tempe Streetcar project. While the site for the proposed arena is not included in the currently proposed routes for the Streetcar system, the possibility exists that the lines could be modified or extended down the road to include the venue.
Such a decision would yield more options for fans in getting to and from events at the arena, so it is certainly an intriguing possibility for both the Coyotes and Tempe officials. Yet, there are some unresolved issues that are likely going to come to a head in 2017.
First, the Coyotes still have to finalize the funding model for the $400 million venue, which requires the State of Arizona to authorize a special taxing district for the arena and surrounding development. Under the current framework, approval of that district will be necessary to cover the additional $200 million needed to fund the arena.
The other is the steps needed to finalize the Tempe Streetcar project. Tempe officials hope to have federal funding in place this year, allowing construction to begin in late 2017. Beyond that, the current route would need to be adjusted to reach the arena. More from the East Valley Tribune:
Tempe Streetcar’s route has a “C” shape. It travels along Rio Salado Parkway from Marina Heights to Mill Avenue, where it will make a downtown loop on Mill and Ash avenues, and head south on Mill to Apache Boulevard. It would end at Apache and Dorsey Lane.
A costly extension would be needed to have it run east to McClintock Road and Rio Salado, where the Coyotes Arena would be located. Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell has mentioned such an extension in the past and said it could potentially run east on Rio Salado to Sloan Park in Mesa, the Cactus League home of the Chicago Cubs.
Someday, hockey fans might be able to take the light rail to Third Street, where a stop also has been proposed. They could also get on from the light rail stop at Dorsey.
Rich Nairn, a Coyotes spokesman, declined to comment on Streetcar’s possible link to the arena.
Whether the new Coyotes arena gets built or not on land now occupied by Arizona State University’s Karsten Golf Course, [principal transportation planner Eric] Iwersen knows that ASU’s Sports Development District is likely to take shape eventually. And whatever is built there likely will mean more density and more potential ridership for an expanded Streetcar system.
The two projects are on separate, but similar timelines. The Coyotes have previously stated that if funding is finalized in a timely fashion, the arena could open for the 2019-2020 NHL season. The Streetcar, meanwhile, is slated to be completed in 2020 if construction starts later this year.
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