Photo courtesy of gophnx.com
It was announced by Coyotes insider Craig Morgan that the Tempe City Council will meet on June 2nd to discuss the $1.9 billion Arizona Coyotes Tempe Arena and entertainment district project. The Arizona Coyotes Tempe Arena project, if approved, will take some time to be built. In February, the team announced an agreement with Arizona State University to use their soon-to-be-completed arena in the meantime.
The Tempe City Council will discuss the Coyotes' proposed arena & entertainment district in a meeting on June 2.
— Craig Morgan (@CraigSMorgan) May 23, 2022
New Tempe Arena is Not Without Controversy
While the Tempe City Council will meet on June 2nd, it is a “discussion” and more than likely won’t lead to a vote in that session on whether the project will be approved or denied.
During an April 21 Phoenix Aviation Advisory Board meeting, Jordan Feld, Phoenix’s deputy aviation director, said that the airport, along with an outside economist, ran a study to see how Sky Harbor could be impacted by the construction phase of the proposed $1.9 billion project.
The answer: A loss of $21.5 million every year. That is per an ABC news report.
The actual vote to decide the fate of the project may not come until July. There is no clear information on that at this point. There are proponents and opponents to the project being passed. While it may create jobs for the community, such issues as parking, and infrastructure have yet to be worked out. Of course, avid hockey fans of the NHL Arizona Coyotes are hoping that Tempe can be their new home.
Gila River Arena Just Didn’t Work
Had the decision makers done their homework on demographics, traffic and where the majority of their fanbase resided, the team may not have ever moved to Glendale. The commute was a major issue why the team wallowed at the bottom of NHL attendance statistics ever since they moved to Glendale. In fact, they only averaged 11,601 fans through the turnstiles this season. Another factor could be attributed to the quality of the product put out on the ice, as well as a swinging door ownership issue.
At the time the team decided to move out of America West arena (now called Footprint Center). They were co-tenants with the Phoenix Suns. The move has not been a success financially for the team. Add in the less than amicable relationship that the hockey club experienced with the city of Glendale, and you have a formula for discord. So much so that the City of Glendale cancelled the team’s lease effective June 30, 2022.
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With No Place to Play, What Now?
It just happened that the Coyotes had kept a close relationship with Arizona State University, and almost completed an arena deal back in February of 2017. ASU was building a new multi-purpose arena near Tempe Town lake and the Coyotes with no other valid choices to play hockey next season, agreed to play their home games in Tempe for the next three years. They also have an option for another year if both parties agree. It certainly gives the team time to get a new arena built. Especially with the favorable weather in the desert not holding up construction.
The ASU arena will be completed in October. The Coyotes have already started construction of a practice facility since it cannot use the ASU arena for that purpose.
Wait… a 5,000 Seat Arena for the NHL
Critics have mocked the decision that the league would permit such an arrangement. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman did state one condition… that it be a temporary arrangement. That means if the Tempe CIty Council for some reason denies the proposed Coyotes Tempe arena, it may mean the team will be forced to find an alternative location, or re-locate.
Sure the ASU arena is state of the art and all that, yet with just 4,700 or so seats how will they survive? By increasing the ticket prices, that’s how. The team won’t get any revenue from on-site gambling, since it will be banned in or around the arena.
Then, the seem less insignificant controversy of which team’s logo would be at center ice took lots of attention. It was finally decided that both teams’ logo would be permitted. That is, with the stipulation that the Coyotes could not alter the ASU logo. Fair enough, but how would that work?
A sarcastic suggestion, but it just highlights all the issues of an NHL team playing in a university’s arena. Will it work? Who knows? The positive perspective is that the team is going to plant some roots in the Tempe area. Once and IF their arena is approved most everyone will know about the team.
Will Playing in a Small Arena Affect the Team’s Ability to Attract Players?
It could, but bear in mind that two new prospects by the names of Jack McBain and Nathan Smith had no qualms about playing in that environment. After all, they are playing NHL hockey, and it certainly must have been their dream come true. As far as attracting free agents to the team, the team is going through a major rebuild and more than likely won’t need to worry about that.
In actuality, the timing of the proposed new arena opening which may not be until the 2026-27 season may work out just perfectly. By then the rebuild should provide some fruitful results as far as the performance results of the team. They will have three 2022 first-round picks including the third overall pick in addition to four second-round picks. One can be assured that the astute general manager of the team (Bill Armstrong) will be doing some wheeling and dealing to help improve the team.
New Era in Tempe
In the end, the team can really flourish in the new arena and the entire entertainment district can assuredly attract many tourist visitors to the area. The Coyotes have suffered long enough with numerous negative comments about the team. Perhaps it’s time to recognize that they are building something special here. That is if it gets approved. Come June 2nd, we shall know most certainly about the fate of this hockey franchise.
LATEST ON THE TEMPE CITY COUNCIL MEETING FROM CRAIG MORGAN:
The City of Tempe has officially announced this. Per the release:
A yes decision means the city and the developer can negotiate. This is not an approval of the project itself, but would trigger a months-long process that would include community input & public meetings. https://t.co/0Txw0mCLwQ
— Craig Morgan (@CraigSMorgan) May 25, 2022
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