Arizona Coyotes’ New Arena In Tempe A Go

Written By Adam Hensley on December 9, 2022

A new home is not far out for the Arizona Coyotes.

The Tempe City Council approved the team’s proposal for a new arena and entertainment district on Nov. 29.

The new district will be a “huge win for this community,” according to Coyotes CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez.

“Our project not only provides a wonderful home for the Coyotes but also serves as a vibrant town square for Tempe, generating thousands of sustainable jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue for the city. We are grateful and excited.”

The new arena will include 16,000 seats. Including the entertainment district, the project will cost around $2.1 billion. According to an ESPN report, at least $1.9 billion will be privately funded.

“We’re committed to making a difference and helping the city. I have given so much and compromised so much, because it’s the right thing to do,” Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo told ESPN. “I would like nothing more than to stay here for 30 or 40 years.”

Plans for the Coyotes’ entertainment district include two hotels, a 3,500-person theater and close to 2,000 residential units.

The Coyotes’ project has ties to sports betting

According to ESPN’s report, the new project is expected to include a sports betting aspect.

Professional sports in Arizona are no stranger to gambling partnerships. FanDuel owns a brick-and-mortar retail sportsbook in Phoenix at the Footprint Center, where the Suns and Mercury play. BetMGM owns a sportsbook just outside the Arizona Cardinals’ stadium as well.

Aside from owning a majority share in the Coyotes, Meruelo launched his own sportsbook – dubbed SaharaBets – in January. The hockey team is one of 18 entities with an event wagering license granted by the Arizona Department of Gaming in 2021. Arizona law calls for the department to hand out a maximum of 20 licenses. Ten of those licenses will go to sport franchises.

The Arizona Coyotes made NHL history earlier this year

The Coyotes became the first NHL team to include a Native American-owned gaming enterprise logo on its jersey. In September, the team announced Gila River Resorts & Casino as its season-long presenting sponsor.

“Gila River is honored to be the first-ever Native American-owned gaming enterprise to have its logo on an NHL jersey,” Gila River Resorts & Casinos CEO Kenneth Manuel said in a release.

“As local leaders, we have developed an incredible partnership with the Arizona Coyotes driving positive change in the community as well as bringing world-class hockey to the Valley. We are thrilled to embark on this historic journey paving the way for other Native American gaming enterprises.”

Gila River Resorts & Casino remains a partner with the Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Suns, Phoenix Mercury and Arizona State Sun Devils as well.

The NHL’s commissioner applauds the new Tempe location

Arizona’s hockey home has been in flux as of late.

Originally, the team competed in Glendale in 2003. But when the arena lease expired, the Glendale City Council opted to not renew. As a fix, the team competed at Mullett Arena – the home of the Arizona State Sun Devils hockey program.

Arizona agreed to play in Mullett Arena for three seasons. The NHL’s deal included a fourth-year option as well, but it was the league’s smallest arena. Mullett Arena seats 5,000 – roughly 11,000 fewer than the new arena’s projections. The Coyotes added nearly $20 million of their own money to help upgrade the facility for team use.

Given that the Coyotes’ new Tempe location includes a non-relocation agreement, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman hinted at bringing an All-Star contest or the draft to the city.

“It’s a private-funded project and the club’s prepared to execute a 30-year, non-relocation agreement. All the things that say this club wants to be here, and frankly, the NHL wants the club to be here.”

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Adam Hensley

Adam Hensley is a journalist from Des Moines, Iowa, who currently works for the USA Today Network. His byline has appeared in the Associated Press, Sports Illustrated and sites within the USA Today Network. Hensley graduated from the University of Iowa in 2019 and spent his college career working for the Daily Iowan’s sports department, both as an editor and reporter.

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