Now theHaving reached an agreement with Tempe City Council to continue negotiations for a new arena in Phoenix, their CEO and president, Xavier A. Gutierrez says that the next challenge will be to dispel any misconceptions about the project and how the team intends to pay.
“The largest [hurdle] “Honestly, it's to make people understand the project,” Gutierrez stated Wednesday to ESPN. “There was a transparency clause which really prevented us from speaking publicly [before a June 2 hearing]. Since so many months we have been keeping our identities secret, it's now that we can make people feel at ease. We are saying, “We're going all the way to pay for this.” We have. [been met with] Some people may be skeptical about this, but it is exactly what we propose.”
The Tempe City Council was presented with the $1.7 billion project by the Coyotes brass in a marathon eight-hour session. It included comments from over 100 citizens and more than 220 written statements. A 5-2 vote was then cast in favor of the team.
The Coyotes seek more than an arena and practice area to make their permanent home. The 46-acre site, currently used as a dump, is the subject of their bid. Gutierrez claims that it would include apartments, hotels, and other outposts that Gutierrez believes would benefit the entire community.
Gutierrez knows that there are questions about the Coyotes' financial ability to pull this off. Gila River Arena served the team in December 2021 with a termination notification. This was in response to $1.3million in unpaid taxes. The team settled the matter and the Coyotes continue to be among the NHL's lowest income generators.
Gutierrez insists they don't need a handout to bring Tempe's vision to life.
He stated that the capital would be privately funded. We'll be raising the capital. We'd actually be buying land. We then requested that the city issue bonds, whose only collateral would be the land and real estate. This would ensure that the taxpayers were not at risk. We are very excited to create the first private-financed entertainment district in Arizona's history.
The Coyotes would be able to move into a permanent home if this project is successful. The Coyotes' lease in Gila River Arena will expire June 30, and they will play for the next three season at a 5,000-seat venue currently under construction at Arizona State.
The Coyotes may not be ready to break ground even if the council votes yes. There are still months of negotiations between developers and the city, as well as community meetings and public forums.
Gutierrez said, “We have respected the process with Tempe” and that Tempe needs to feel comfortable. “We told them we'd love to make a decision in fall. We are eager to start on the remediation of this land and build that first phase. It would include our new arena and practice facility, as well as a few other uses. We don't have control over that and will work with the city in order to build a meaningful partnership.
There are also concerns about noise, traffic, and how incoming property would impact local businesses. Some of these concerns are being addressed by the Coyotes through a grassroots approach.
Gutierrez stated, “It's up to us to ensure that we get out there and have those conversations, having that educational level, saying, ‘Hey, this how we address issues.’” Gutierrez agreed.
This dialogue will be held while the Coyotes are playing at Arizona State. Gutierrez indicated that construction should be complete by September or October.
To build an NHL-mandated Annex that provides the necessary locker-rooms and medical facilities, the Coyotes needed to spend around $30 millions. Gutierrez stated that the annex wouldn't be complete when the NHL opens their 2022-23 season in October. However, the Coyotes plan to host games there at some point during that month.
Gutierrez refused to comment on the ticket sales for Coyotes games against Arizona State, but stated that they are doing “incredibly well” and promised more details soon.
Gary Bettman, NHL commissioner is fully behind the Coyotes no matter what they have in store. Bettman stated previously that if Tempe is approved, he would ensure that the Coyotes are not allowed to move for the next 30 years, and that the arena would host the NHL draft and an All-Star Game.
Bettman stated again Wednesday that it is not unusual for NHL clubs temporarily to play in smaller venues if there are bigger plans.
Bettman stated that you should do what you need to do in order to believe in a long-term market. “Obviously, we have to do some work before we can shovel into the ground. [in Tempe]. However, I receive more reports. [it sounds like] Everybody is doing the right thing and doing it as efficiently as they can.”