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Phoenix: New Tempe arena could impact Sky Harbor

A new Tempe arena and associated development built by the Arizona Coyotes (NHL) could impact operations at Sky Harbor Airport, according to Phoenix officials who want a review of the plans before any government approvals.

Reviews by the Federal Aviation Administration regarding new construction of any sort that might impact airport operations are routine and expected, so it’s a little unusual to see Phoenix officials are calling for a review so early in the process. And we are indeed early in the process: a development plan for a new Tempe arena has indeed been submitted to the city in the RFP process, but plenty of details need to be ironed out.

The concerns raised by Aviation Director Chad Makovsky says the arena — and, curiously, not the 12-story towers next to the arena — raises some “unique and significant” for the airport. From

Specifically, the letter outlines that the developers should conduct an observation evaluation to check that the district does not create a safety hazard to air travel because it’s being built within two miles of an airport runway.

The letter adds that the Coyotes and Bluebird should not allow the use of lasers, fireworks, promotional spotlights, drones, or other disturbances that would require a temporary flight restriction because TFRs in the area would “likely significantly limit, if not altogether suspect flight operations” during these times. 

Additionally, the city advises that the developers contract a wildlife biologist to review the plans to ensure it’s compliant with the FAA’s wildlife-hazard mitigation criteria. Makovsky notes, “this requirement is critical given the Coyotes and Bluebird’s desire to expand Tempe Town Lake west to Priest Drive.”

Not quite sure why Phoenix officials are raising issues that are under the purview of the FAA or why the Aviation Department is discussion wildlife mitigation. But there will be plenty of opportunities to raise specific issues down the line when there is an FAA review.

Rendering courtesy Arizona Coyotes.

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