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Coyotes president Xavier Gutierrez addresses team’s economic challenges

Fans line up outside of Gila River Arena before the NHL game between the Arizona Coyotes and the Winnipeg Jets on October 9, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Arizona Coyotes haven’t had the smoothest last few months both on and off the ice.

After a summer that saw former general manager John Chayka cut ties and the team lose draft picks due to scouting violations, the Coyotes are now behind on payments for Gila River Arena, which is operated and managed by ASM Global.

Last Thursday, the City of Glendale confirmed to Arizona Sports that there “is an outstanding balance owed to ASM by the Coyotes” and that ASM Global is “working closely with the team to get the situation resolved.”

“We are all facing an unprecedented health crisis and economic crisis. If you just go across the plaza, you’ll see empty hotels, empty restaurants and empty stores,” Coyotes president and CEO Xavier Gutierrez told reporters via Zoom on Tuesday.

“You have businesses throughout the country that are facing economic challenges… that have had had to make very, very difficult decisions. We will and we must course-correct some of the business arrangements that have historically undermined the financial prosperity of this franchise. We don’t take it lightly whenever we have to make decisions that are very difficult that impact our team members.”

The annual yearly payment the Coyotes make to ASM Global is over $3 million and Glendale gets $1.6 million of that payment, according to Craig Morgan of azcoyotesinsider.com.

Having already furloughed some employees in mid-April through to June 30, the Coyotes made additional layoffs and furloughs in mid-August at the end of the season, citing an impact made by the pandemic.

“As Alex Meruelo has said, you don’t work for him, you work with him and we don’t take a cavalier attitude whenever we make an impact that really has a negative result to our team members,” Gutierrez said. “But we will be doing what’s right for this organization today, tomorrow and into the future.

“We are experienced business people and we know that when you put in new people and new processes, sometimes things don’t always go very smoothly. But I can assure you we will continue to improve, we will continue to iterate, we will continue until we are a model sports franchise and a model business franchise.”

Morgan also reported in early September that multiple players were not paid their signing bonuses on time.

The 2020-21 NHL season will have training camp begin in mid-November, according to ESPN.

“I really want to be very clear to this community, to our partners, to our fans: they should have extreme confidence in this ownership and its strength and its stability,” Gutierrez said.

“Last year was the first time that this team spent to the max of the salary cap and Alex Meruelo — I can assure you — is fully committed to continue to make investments not only through this pandemic, but going forward.”


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