The Arizona Coyotes NHL ice hockey franchise has announced plans to build a new arena in a move that could ease fears over the team’s future direction.
The proposed facility, which remains subject to approval from various parties, would be located in the district alongside Tempe Town Lake and boast more than 16,000 seats.
The main arena would be complemented by an attached 4,000-seat multi-sport arena, which would be used to host Coyotes training sessions and youth team games, in addition to Arizona State University (ASU) college ice hockey matches and various community events.
Phase one of the plans would include construction of the two arenas, while, if approved, the second phase would see a new hotel and other related amenities also built at the site. The project has a projected price tag of around $400m (€362.3m).
The team has until June 30 next year to finalise a budget, design and operational plan for the project. The Coyotes has already secured a partnership with Catellus Development Construction, the master developer for the ASU Athletic Facilities District, and will now seek similar deals with other public sector constituents.
“Over the past year we have been exhaustive in our research regarding the most optimal location for our new home in the Valley,” Coyotes president and chief executive, Anthony LeBlanc, said. “While we have tremendous fans all across the greater Phoenix metro area, not to mention the entire state, it became clear that the East Valley is home to a majority of our fans and corporate partners.
“Our fans in the West Valley have shown us tremendous support over the past 13 years, and we look forward to working with them as we transition to our new home in the future.”
The future of the Coyotes has been uncertain for some time now, after Glendale City Council cut an original 15-year deal for the team to play at its current Gila River Arena home. The agreement was signed in 2013, but a legal dispute last year led to the two parties signing a shortened deal that will expire in June next year. Gila River is the Coyotes’ second Arizona home since moving to the state in 1996, having also previously played at the America West Arena in Phoenix.
Responding to the plans, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said: “I think first and foremost it'll stop all the speculation as to what may or may not happen to the franchise. Secondly, it will, I believe, based on the locations I'm hearing about, ensure that from an attendance standpoint this franchise can thrive and I think it will assure the long-term future of this franchise beyond doubt.”