NHL commissioner Gary Bettman: ‘No issue with the Arizona Coyotes’
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman downplayed any concerns with the Arizona Coyotes and Gila River Arena during Day 2 of the league’s board of governors meetings in Florida on Friday.
“There’s no issue with the Arizona Coyotes. … (Team owner Alex Meruelo) is committed, Alex has the resources and the Coyotes aren’t going anywhere,” Bettman said. “They’re going somewhere else other than Glendale, but they’re not leaving the greater Phoenix area.”
In a letter obtained by ArizonaSports.com on Wednesday from the city of Glendale to Coyotes president and CEO Xavier Gutierrez, the city stated that if the team did not pay the over $1.4 million owed to the city, state and ASM Global — the arena management company — by 5 p.m. MST on Dec. 20, then the NHL club would be locked out of Gila River Arena.
The Coyotes on Thursday said that they had sent money to the Arizona Department of Revenue for unpaid taxes owed after calling the missed payments an “unfortunate human error” in a statement sent Wednesday to ArizonaSports.com.
However, Glendale city manager Kevin Phelps told KTAR News’ Gaydos & Chad on Thursday that the team paid off their debt for the 2021 season that was due on June 30, but one of the checks “did not reconcile” with the arena manager and will require further clarification on what that amount is for.
“I think there was a miscommunication,” Bettman said. “All of the outstanding obligations have become current. How that happened, again, was a long story and a miscommunication, but it’s been taken care of.”
Reached out to City of Glendale manager Kevin Phelps for comment on Gary Bettman's comments that Glendale has an agenda in dealing w/ Coyotes. His response:
"If Mr. Bettman and others want to believe that not filing 17 monthly tax returns was due to human error, then so be it ..
— Katie Strang (@KatieJStrang) December 10, 2021
Phelps added that after the city hired an economist to weigh the pros and cons of a future with or without the NHL team, it was determined Glendale would be better off financially without the Coyotes.
“It’s clear the city of Glendale has either an agenda or an edge in the way they’re dealing with the Coyotes,” Bettman said. “… I know Alex Meruelo is committed to Arizona and is working on a plan for a new arena, which is probably what’s agitating the city of Glendale.
“The new arena would be in a place where I think everybody would find it much more accessible and would improve the short term and long term fortunes of the club.”
In August, Glendale announced that it would not be renewing the operating agreement with the Coyotes at the end of the 2021-22 campaign, meaning this season will be the team’s final season at Gila River Arena.
Team leaders have remained adamant that Coyotes would not leave the state of Arizona with their move out of Glendale.
“It’ll take a couple of years to build (an arena) and the fact the city of Glendale wouldn’t want the club to remain in their building on an interim basis speaks volumes about the way they’re approaching this,” Bettman said.