Plenty of work remains in the ongoing Arizona Coyotes arena search, as team officials, led by new Coyotes president and CEO Ahron Cohen, continue to map out a long-term facility plan.
The Coyotes have played at Glendale’s Gila River Arena since 2003, but have expressed their desire in the recent past to secure a new arena. It has been believed that the club ultimately wants to land either a Phoenix or East Valley location to improve its financial situation, but no firm plans for a new arena have come to fruition to this point.
For right now, the Coyotes indicate they are working to fulfill other goals–such as making the team more competitive and improving community outreach–while acknowledging that they will need to map out their long-term facility solution. During a wide-ranging Q&A with Richard Morin of the Arizona Republic, Cohen explained where an arena fits into the organization’s broader priorities:
Q: You’ve mentioned stepping into some challenging situations and that the arena saga has been part of that. What can you say about the work (Steve) Patterson was doing and how the search for a new arena will change with you taking over this position?
A: The arena has always been a collaborative effort and one that I’ve been centrally involved in since I started with the Coyotes. That’s going to continue with myself as well as our advisers, Mitchell Zeits being one of them, and (owner) Andy Barroway is involved and (general manager) John Chayka is involved. Really, the most important thing for us right now and what we’re focusing on is achieving our core goals. Those are building hockey fandom in Arizona, building a competitive team on the ice, and positively impacting our community. Ultimately, we have to figure out our long-term arena solution. But that problem is solved by achieving those three goals I laid out. Everything else will fall in place if we’re fulfilling those three goals.
In the last few years, the Coyotes have seen various arena efforts come up short. The team unveiled a proposal in late 2016 that called for a new arena in Tempe that would be constructed as part of a partnership with Arizona State University and its hockey program, but ASU pulled the plug on that plan in early 2017 (its hockey program is now slated to play in a new multi-sport arena opening in 2020). Additionally, state legislation to finance a new arena failed to gain support among Arizona lawmakers last year.