Coyotes Tempe plans fall like a house of cards



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Voters reject plan for new Coyotes arena Image: Manica Architecture

The National Hockey League (NHL) team Arizona Coyotes’ future in Arizona remains unclear. The team’s hopes to build a new arena in Tempe, Arizona (US) fell through on May 16th when the plan was rejected by the voters. As a result, the franchise’s chances of staying in Arizona “will be evaluated by our owners and the National Hockey League” over the next couple of weeks.

‘cbssports.com’ stated that the new arena was set to be included as part of a new $2.1 billion entertainment district in Tempe, with at least $1.9 billion of the project slated to be privately-funded. But voters had to vote in favor of Propositions 301, 302 and 303 on a special election ballot that was mailed out in April and included in-person voting on May 16th.

The Arizona Coyotes are a professional ice hockey team based in the Phoenix metropolitan area. The Coyotes compete in the National Hockey League (NHL) as a member of the Central Division in the Western Conference and play at the Mullett Arena in Tempe, Arizona, US.

The Mullett Arena is an indoor multipurpose arena at the Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona, US. The 5,000-seat arena is the home of the men’s ice hockey, women’s ice hockey, women’s gymnastics, and men’s wrestling teams.

The City of Tempe in Arizona (US) wants a professional sports team to develop 46 acres of City-owned land that is currently a solid waste compost yard into a stadium or arena and an entertainment district and the National Hockey League (NHL) team Arizona Coyotes were ready to give their right arm to take up the task.

New York (US)-based the National Hockey League (NHL) is a professional ice hockey league in North America comprising 32 teams – 25 in the United States and 7 in Canada. It is considered to be the top-ranked professional ice hockey league in the world, and is one of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada.

‘cbssports.com’ further stated that if passed, it would’ve meant that voters accepted that both the funds be spent and the land be used for the new entertainment district. Unofficial results from May 16th showed between 56 percent and 57 percent of voting “no” on the three propositions.

The Coyotes said in a statement, “We are very disappointed Tempe voters did not approve Propositions 301, 302, and 303. As Tempe Mayor Corey Woods said, it was the best sports deal in Arizona history. The Coyotes wish to thank everyone who supported our efforts and voted yes.”

League commissioner Gary Bettman added that he was “terribly disappointed by the results of the public referenda regarding the Coyotes’ arena project in Tempe” in a statement.

Specifically, the Coyotes wanted to build a new 16,000-seat arena and entertainment district at the West end of the Tempe Town Lake. The plot of land the arena would’ve sat on is nearly 46 acres and is located two miles from the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. In November 2022, the Tempe City Council unanimously approved the plans.

The Coyotes lost their home in Glendale, California – at what was then called the Gila River Arena but now goes by the name – the 18,300-capacity Desert Diamond Arena – at the end of the 2021-2022 NHL seasons. They had called that arena home for 18 years. The franchise then relocated to the 5,000-seat Mullett Arena on the campus of the Arizona State University, sharing the arena with the school’s men’s hockey team.

The Coyotes are scheduled to call the Mullett Arena home for the next two seasons with an option for a fourth year. The 2022-2023 seasons marked the first for the Coyotes at the Mullett Arena.

The franchise originally began playing in Phoenix after relocating from Winnipeg (City in Canada) in 1996. With the Tempe plan rejected, the Coyotes’ days in Arizona may be numbered.

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