The Arizona Coyotes’ lease at Gila River Arena ends after this season. So what’s next for the franchise? The city of Tempe could provide the solution as the Coyotes seek a permanent home.
The Coyotes have been in Gila River Arena since 2003. However, the name changed in 2014 when a nine-year deal was inked with the Coyotes, the Gila River Indian Community and Gila River Casinos.
This deal became the first time a federally recognized tribe received naming rights on a venue hosting a major sporting franchise.
Glendale calls it quits with Coyotes
Unfortunately for Glendale citizens and the team, the city decided not to renew the team’s lease on the building, saying they would prefer to focus on concerts and events at the venue rather than hockey.
Part of the reason for the divorce is traced to the Arizona Department of Revenue.
The department filed a $1.3 million lien against the team due to unpaid taxes dating back to June 2020. However, Coyote’s ownership claimed an honest clerical error was to blame for the unpaid taxes, and there was no intent to evade the payments. The Coyotes say they have since paid all money owed.
New beginnings good for the Coyotes
Although it wasn’t the Coyotes’ decision to leave Glendale, a change of scenery and fresh start elsewhere may be welcomed.
Gila River Arena is the fourth-smallest in the NHL by capacity, seating 17,125 for hockey games. But lack of seating hasn’t been an issue, as the Coyotes have been in the bottom four in attendance the previous five seasons.
Arizona to play at ASU next few seasons
In February, the Coyotes announced they will play at Arizona State University’s multipurpose arena for through the 2024-25 season. They also have an option to stay for an additional season.
Construction of the multipurpose arena should be complete in the fall and will seat 5,000 spectators. This will make the Coyotes’ temporary home the smallest arena by capacity by a long shot. The second-smallest will be the Canada Life Centre, home to the Winnipeg Jets and seating 15,321.
Tempe could be permanent home for Coyotes
The team made a $1.7 billion proposal to build a 16,000-seat arena in Tempe as the Coyotes seek a permanent home. The 46-acre property would include hotels, restaurants and shops near Rio Salado and Priest Drive, near Loop 202.
Funds for the project would come from private investors and city sales tax revenue.
The Coyotes are waiting for approval, as Tempe said the evaluations could take months to complete. The initial proposal came in September 2021.