Arizona Coyotes plan to fund new arena, recreation area in particular, says team leader/CEO

Now that the Arizona Coyotes have reached an agreement with Tempe City Council to continue negotiations on a new plaza and recreation area in suburban Phoenix, their team president and CEO, Xavier A. Gutierrez, the next challenge is to clear up misconceptions about what’s running — and how the team plans to pay for it.

“the biggest [hurdle] “Honestly it’s getting people to understand the project,” Gutierrez told ESPN on Wednesday. There was a transparent clause that really forbid us to speak out [before a June 2 hearing]. We’ve been keeping it under wraps for months, so now we’re making people comfortable. We say, “We’ll pay for all of this.” And we have [been met with] Some skepticism about that, but that’s what we’re really suggesting.”

Coyotes brass presented its $1.7 billion project to Tempe City Council in an eight-hour marathon session that included comments from more than 100 citizens and included more than 220 written statements before a 5-2 vote for the team.

Wolves are looking for more than just a yard and training facility to become their permanent home. Their offer includes a 46-acre site – currently used as a landfill – which will also include hotels, apartments, retail stores and other outposts that Gutierrez insists will be beneficial to the entire community.

But as Gutierrez knows all too well, there are doubts about wolves’ ability to make this happen financially without help. The team received a notice of termination from the Gila River Arena in December 2021 in part over $1.3 million in unpaid taxes — which the team settled — and Coyote was among the lowest sources of income in the NHL.

Gutierrez insists they are not looking for a flyer to revive Tempe’s vision.

“It will be financed by the private sector,” he said. “We’re going to put up the capital. We’re going to actually buy the land. And then we apply for the city’s issuance bonds whose only guarantee will be land and real estate, so the taxpayers will never be at risk. We’re going to be very excited about creating our first privately funded recreation area.” in the history of Arizona”.

Getting this project off the ground would, more urgently, give the wolves a long-term home. The Coyotes’ lease at the Gila River Arena expires on June 30, and over the next three seasons, they’ll play at a 5,000-seat venue still under construction in Arizona.

Even a yes from city council doesn’t mean coyotes are about to start. There are months of negotiations between the city and developers, as well as community meetings and public forums.

“We respect this process with the city of Tempe and what they need to feel comfortable with,” Gutierrez said. “We told them we’d like to make a decision in the fall. We’d like to start repairing this land and building that first phase, which will include the new arena, the training facility, and a couple of other uses. We’re not in control of that, and we’ll be working with the city to create a truly meaningful partnership.”

There are also questions about noise and traffic and how incoming properties will affect local businesses. Wolves take a folk approach to allay some of those fears.

“It is up to us to make sure that we get out there and have those conversations, get that educational level, and say, ‘Hey, this is how we approach problems,'” Gutierrez said.

This dialogue will take place while the Wolves play in Arizona. Gutierrez said construction is on track to be completed in September or October.

Coyotes had to invest about $30 million to finish the NHL annex that provides the required locker room and medical facilities not normally available on college premises. Gutierrez said the playoff will not be completed when the NHL opens the 2022-23 season in October, but the Coyotes are planning to host games sometime that month.

Gutierrez declined to comment specifically on ticket sales for the Coyotes Games in Arizona, but said they are going “very well” and promised details soon.

Whatever Coyotes have up their sleeve, NHL Commissioner Gary Pittman is firmly behind them. Bettman previously said that if Project Tempe were approved, he would ensure that the Coyotes were not allowed to move for 30 years and that the arena would host the All-Star Game and the NHL Draft.

In media availability Wednesday, Bettman reiterated that it is not “unprecedented” for the NHL to play temporarily in small venues if the bigger picture is in mind.

“You have to do what you have to do if you believe in a long-term market,” Bateman said. “Obviously there is some work to be done before we can put a shovel into the ground [in Tempe]. But the more reports I get, [it sounds like] Everyone does what they need to do as efficiently as possible.”


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