Amidst the team’s push for a new arena, the Arizona Coyotes and the NHL are emphasizing that Glendale’s Gila River Arena is not an option to keep the franchise in the state. This comes Arizona lawmakers debate a bill that could lead to a new arena for the Coyotes.
State senator Bob Worsley has introduced a bill that provides a proposal for funding a $395 million arena project. The plan calls for $170 from the Coyotes, while the arena would be constructed within a special taxing district in an unspecified location, and $55 million would come from the city that lands the venue.
Thus far, Worsley’s proposal has had problems gaining traction in the state legislature, with some lawmakers finding it difficult to justify the plan. The Coyotes currently play at Gila River Arena in Glendale, but are seeking a new home, contending that their current arrangement is not economically viable.
In a letter, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman urged lawmakers to proceed with the bill, while the Coyotes echoed his sentiments in a statement from owner Andrew Barroway. Both stated that Glendale was not a viable home for the team, and that the bill was vital to ensuring that the Coyotes remain in the state. However, senate president Steve Yarbrough and house speaker J.D. Mesnard–to whom Bettman addressed his letter–are skeptical the bill will move forward. More from AZ Central:
Yarbrough told The Arizona Republic that Senate Bill 1149, legislation that would provide arena financing, doesn’t have the votes to pass. Mesnard, in a statement, agreed.
“While I very much want to see the Coyotes remain in Arizona, what they’re asking for is no small thing,” Mesnard said. “The NHL first needs to make the case for a state-funded arena to the taxpayers. We’re not seeing a lot of enthusiasm that the public wants to foot the bill for a new arena, and until the NHL can win over taxpayers, they’re going to have a tough sell at the Legislature.”
Sen. Bob Worsley, R-Mesa, has sponsored a bill that would create a community engagement district of up to 30 acres for an arena. Within the district, up to half of the state’s share of sales taxes generated from retail sales and hotel stays would be dedicated to paying the bond debt for an arena. It also would allow an additional 2 percent district sales tax to be applied to all purchases within the district, with those revenues also dedicated to defraying the cost of new facility construction.
The lease between the Coyotes and Glendale keeps the team at Gila River Arena through at least the 2017-18 NHL season. The venue opened in 2003, and debt payments on the venue are expected to continue through 2033.
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