It’s official: the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes signed a two-season lease, with the option for a third season, to play home games at a new Arizona State arena opening this fall.
The Coyotes will play all their home games at the venue from 2022-23 through the 2024-25 NHL season with an additional option for the 2025-26 season.
The lease, as well as upgrades to add NHL requirements to the NCAA facility, was approved today by the Arizona Board of Regents. It’s a small college arena–and, quite honestly, at 5,000 seats, it’s a little small even by NCAA standards–and not designed at all for the needs of an NHL team. But the Coyotes have agreed to fund upgrades.
“We are thrilled that we have arranged to play our home games in Arizona State University’s new multi-purpose arena starting next season,” Coyotes President & CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez said via press release. “This will be an incredible, intimate and exciting fan experience in a state-of-the-art new arena in a fantastic location in the heart of Tempe. We are very grateful to Dr. Crow, the ASU Administration, ASU Athletic Department, and the Arizona Board of Regents for agreeing to provide us with this temporary arena solution for our team as we continue our efforts to secure a long-term home for the Coyotes in the Valley.”
“We are pleased to help the Coyotes by providing a temporary home while their new arena is built,” Morgan R. Olsen, ASU executive vice president, treasurer and CFO, said via press release. “We are beyond excited to open this wonderful new ASU arena, and this agreement just makes it even more special.”
“The National Hockey League thanks Arizona State University for its support of the Coyotes during this transition period and for what will be just its latest major commitment to growing our game in the Valley,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said via press release. “Having made the full-time transition to Division I just seven years ago, ASU hockey already has an NCAA Tournament appearance to its credit and now is moving into a new, state-of-the-art facility. Hockey is thriving in Tempe, and we are delighted that the Coyotes’ passionate fans will get to experience ASU’s on-campus energy while the club’s new arena is being built.”
The Coyotes are also negotiating with Ice Den Scottsdale to make the complex the team’s full-time practice facility. Ice Den Scottsdale was built in 1998 as the Coyotes primary practice facility. Since moving to Glendale in 2003, the Coyotes have continued to use the facility when Gila River Arena was unavailable due to concerts and other events.
This plan only makes sense if the team’s Tempe plans come to fruition. We’ve outlined them here, but basically the team is working with the city on a $1.7-billion mixed-use office/entertainment/housing development anchored by a new Coyotes arena. Opposition comes from Phoenix and Sky Harbor officials who say the development may impact airport operations, but that’s a bit of a red herring: the FAA and not city officials determine potential impacts on airport operations. (Indeed, the FAA has been known to reject sporting venues based on airport impact. One early location for Las Vegas’s Allegiant Stadium was rejected because of FAA concerns.) A local group opposes the project because of the potential impact on Tempe finances, but as the arena and development are privately financed, there’s some debate over that as well, although concerns about community benefits should certainly be addressed when we potentially see some public debate on the proposal.
RELATED STORIES: Coyotes pitch temp tenancy in new ASU arena; With Coyotes departing, Glendale plans Gila River Arena makeover; No lockout for Coyotes at Gila River Arena; Chase Field in play as temp Coyotes home?; Coyotes, Glendale continue sparring over Gila River Arena finances; Phoenix: New Tempe arena could impact Sky Harbor; Proposed Arizona Coyotes arena core of $1.7B Tempe development; Coyotes Tempe arena bid confirmed; With loss of Glendale lease, where will Coyotes next play?; New Coyotes Tempe arena on tap?; Job #1 for Gutierrez: New Coyotes arena; Gutierrez new Arizona Coyotes president/CEO