The RFP was very narrowly written, and the assumption is that it was tailored for the Coyotes. Basically, the RFP covered a Tempe-owned 46-acre parcel near Priest Drive and Rio Salado Parkway, west of downtown and the University of Arizona campus, with a focus on sports and entertainment. Not many entities would fit the criteria, and sure enough there was only one entity responding to the RFP: Coyotes ownership. The city would not confirm that the Coyotes did indeed place the only bid, only reporting that Bluebird Development, LLC was the only firm submitting a bid, but later in the day the Coyotes confirmed it in a statement:
“We are pleased to have submitted a proposal to the City of Tempe. As regulations surrounding the RFP process dictate, we cannot comment any further at this time, but we remain incredibly excited about this extraordinary opportunity.”
That Coyotes Owner Alex Meruelo has been looking at leaving Gila River Arena for a more centrally located facility closer to the eastern side of the Valley, whether it be Tempe or Scottsdale. The step taken toward an Arizona Coyotes Tempe arena is a small one, to be sure, but it does signal the direction the Coyotes are taking. The next steps: the city and the team will negotiate a deal for the land, with the team also mapping out its development financing plan as well. If all goes well, you could see a deal between the city and the Coyotes struck by the end of the year.
But there are still plenty of moving parts to address, including a decision on where the Coyotes will play in the years between the end of the 2021-2022 NHL season, when the team’s lease at Gila River Arena ends, and the opening of a new arena, which could take several years. We looked at that issue here.