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New Coyotes Tempe arena on tap?

Phoenix CoyotesWe may see a new Coyotes Tempe arena in the works, as the Arizona NHL team and the city are eying an arena and an entertainment district west of the downtown area.

It’s no secret the Coyotes have wanted out of the West Valley’s Gila River Arena and somewhere closer to the center of the Phoenix area, with Tempe frequently being discussed. Under contemplation at this time: a city-owned parcel near Priest Drive and Rio Salado Parkway, west of downtown Tempe and the University of Arizona campus.

The City of Tempe has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a project incorporating a professional sports franchise and entertainment district for two parcels of city-owned land totaling 46 acres, currently housing the city’s public works and compost yard. The RFP specifies private financing for the project; a developer would also be on the hook for any site remediation–which could cost as much as $70 million. Sources tell the Arizona Republic that this RFP is the result of talks between the Coyotes and the city, but that’s not being confirmed by the city. In a statement, the official city stance was made clear: “While the RFP is open, the city will not discuss the matter beyond providing this statement. The statement should be attributed to the City of Tempe as the sole official statement on this matter….

“Any professional sports franchise or entity partnered with the franchise can respond to the RFP; it is open to all qualified organizations, locally and nationally. It is customary for cities or towns to issue RFPs in order to get specifics that can be analyzed and evaluated. On occasion, cities like Tempe issue RFPs after being approached with unsolicited, informal proposals; the RFP is a tool to solidify and examine such proposals as well as all other responsive proposals. In this instance, the city determined that this 46 acres of land is underutilized and desired to open up this RFP process. 

“After the RFP closes, the city will examine and evaluate all responsive proposals. That evaluation will include projected economic impacts, job creation, public benefit, neighborhood impacts, traffic impacts and more. There is no estimated time period for these analyses.”

And while the Coyotes did not confirm talks with Tempe, in a statement the team did confirm interest in the site: “Given our determination to remain in the Valley for many years to come, we are actively working to identify the best long-term home for the Coyotes, our devoted fans and this great community.”

Once RFPs are received by the August 19 deadline, the next steps will be city evaluations followed by City Council deliberations. Assuming all goes smoothly–which is never a given when big projects are involved–an agreement could be in place by the end of the year.

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