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LeBlanc: Coyotes have chosen site for new arena

Arizona Coyotes' Anthony Duclair (10) celebrates his goal against the Carolina Hurricanes with Klas Dahlbeck (34), of Sweden, Max Domi (16), and Viktor Tikhonov (9), of Russia, during the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015 in Glendale, Ariz. The Hurricanes defeated the Coyotes 5-4 in overtime. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

TEMPE, Ariz. — Coyotes president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc said Thursday afternoon that the team has chosen a site for its new arena and is working through the legal documentation of the real estate agreement.

LeBlanc declined to provide many other details, or name the site, but the previously reported potential sites include one on the campus of Arizona State University on its newly-created athletic district where Karsten Golf Course currently sits, one at the intersection of the 101 and 202 freeways just north of Tempe Marketplace, one along the 101 corridor in Scottsdale —  across from Talking Stick Resort — and downtown, although Suns owner Robert Sarver is a major stumbling block to a Phoenix site.

ASU officials could not be reached for comment to determine whether they are partnering with the Coyotes. LeBlanc said once the real estate agreement is in place, he would be in a position to discuss content within the facility and potential partners.

LeBlanc also reiterated that funding for the stadium would be a joint public/private venture with more than 50 percent of the cost privately funded by the Coyotes. The public portion would likely come in the form of a tax district that would only generate tax revenues with the existence of the arena. A percentage of that revenue would be used to pay for the arena and associated costs. The creation of that district would require approval from the Arizona State Legislature but would not require a public vote.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Wednesday from the league’s awards show that he is confident the arena search is moving in a positive direction.

“I think they have an enormously good and valuable opportunity to get a new arena in a place that will work much better than what they’ve had,” Bettman said.

The Coyotes’ lease agreement with Gila River Arena expires after next season. It is uncertain whether the Coyotes would be able to sign a short-term extension with Glendale and arena manager AEG, given their contentious relationship with the city, but LeBlanc said Friday that he had preliminary talks with AEG at this week’s NHL Board of Governors meetings about extending the Coyotes’ lease two more years in Glendale to bridge that gap until a new arena is ready, putting a timeline for planning and construction at about three years.

“The key will be: get the new arena and then we’ll figure out where they play in the meantime,” Bettman said. “That’s the tail; not the dog.”

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly expressed similar sentiments.

“The ownership group continues to be extremely positive that something’s going to get done, something’s going to get done in the relative short term and what’s going to get done is going to be a huge improvement over their current situation,” Daly said, before addressing where the Coyotes would play while the arena is being built. “There are always alternatives. If you have the long-term solution in place you find a way to get to the long-term solution. There’s never going to be something that would preclude us from bridging from here to there.”

LeBlanc added Friday that there is a backup plan if the current site does not pan out, but the Coyotes are committed to the primary site. He hopes to have an announcement by the end of the summer.

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