Arizona State University has pulled the plug on a new Arizona Coyotes arena project, but Coyotes President and CEO Anthony LeBlanc says work will continue to keep the NHL team in the Valley.
The end of the proposed Tempe arena was pretty abrupt: Arizona State sent an email to the Arizona Republic announcing the school “has no intention of proceeding to sign a development agreement or an option to lease or any other agreement with the Coyotes.” It’s not know how long the team or development partner Catellus Development Corp. were aware of the ASU stance, but at the end of the day it really doesn’t matter: a dead deal is still dead. LeBlanc’s response, per NHL.com:
“While a new Coyotes arena built with ASU would have been a big winner for our fans, taxpayers, the university and our team, the Coyotes had and continue to have a number of options for a new arena. Unfortunately, it appears the ASU deal will not be moving forward,” LeBlanc said. “Nevertheless, the Coyotes are committed to the Valley for the long term, and we will continue to explore other options that will ensure a successful future for the team and our fans. We’re a determined bunch, on the ice and off the ice. We intend to do everything we can to keep NHL hockey here in Arizona.”
Catellus Development had proposed a 28-acre “community engagement district” within the Arizona State facilities district that would be backed by sales taxes generated by the project. That funding was codified into a legislative proposal, which wasn’t enthusiastically received by all state legislators.
The team’s lease at Gila River Arena runs through the 2017-2018 season. In theory, the team could negotiate a longer-term lease with Glendale, but there’s a lot of bad blood there: in 2015 the city terminated the team’s arena-management lease and brought in a third party to oversee the business side. That led the Coyotes to seek out a new deal on the eastern side of the Valley, although Glendale officials still say they’d work out a long-term lease with the team. But with the Gila River Arena lease ending in 2018, you’ll soon hear talk from Seattle and Quebec City about how wonderful it will be to host the Coyotes in the future.
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