NHL’s Bettman: Suns have no interest sharing arena with Coyotes
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on Friday praised Arizona Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo’s plan of temporarily playing at ASU’s new multipurpose facility while the team waits for its new arena in Tempe.
ASU’s new 5,000-seat arena is scheduled to be completed this fall and would host Coyotes home games while the team awaits the approval and construction of the pro hockey team’s proposed stadium along the south side of Rio Salado Parkway.
And in the midst of his praises during All-Star weekend media day, Bettman gave an update as to whether or not there could be a possible temporary return to Footprint Center in downtown Phoenix.
“We think [a new arena in Tempe] will completely change the current fortunes of the club,” he told reporters. “So what do you do in the interim? Glendale has shut them out.
“The Phoenix Suns have apparently no interest in sharing their building even on a temporary basis with the Coyotes. My guess is that they would prefer that the Coyotes leave town.”
The Coyotes shared a stadium with the Suns from 1996-2003 after the team moved from Winnipeg and have been at the 18,000-seat Gila River Arena for the last 19 seasons.
However, the city of Glendale and Gila River Arena manager ASM Global told the Coyotes last year that the team must leave the venue when the fiscal year ends on June 30.
“There are a lot of hockey fans and the team has built a good fan base. And with the right arena, situation, they will be great,” Bettman said. “And at the end of the day, if there has to be a temporary accommodation … I think they can create a terrific experience for people in a more intimate setting. And it wouldn’t be the first time that we were in a smaller facility pending the construction of a new arena.
“This is good market. This has been a franchise that has had its challenges, some of which are beyond its control. As long as there is a commitment and forthcoming for a new building, then it’s going to be worth sticking with it.”