ARIZONA COYOTES

Coyotes hope to agree with Tempe on arena plan by end of year

Jun 14, 2022, 7:03 PM
President, CEO & Alternate Governor Xavier A. Gutierrez (Photo by Kelsey Grant/NHLI via Getty I...
President, CEO & Alternate Governor Xavier A. Gutierrez (Photo by Kelsey Grant/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo by Kelsey Grant/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Arizona Coyotes hope that open discourse with the city of Tempe and its residents will allow them to, in an ideal world, finalize plans by the end of the year on the team’s proposed entertainment district and arena, team president and CEO Xavier Gutierrez told Bickley & Marotta on Tuesday.

“We respect the process that, really, the city of Tempe is in charge of,” Gutierrez said. “We certainly would love to get something done in terms of an agreement sometime in the fall or before the end of the year so that early part of next year we’re really beginning remediation (of the land). That would be ideal.

“Clearly we’re not in control here. We’re going to go through the process, we’re going to answer all the questions, we’re going to be out in the community as we have been since (owner Alex Meruelo) bought the team and I joined shortly thereafter.”

Tempe’s city council on June 2 voted 5-2 in favor of moving forward with a planning stage that includes discussions between the team, developers and city that weren’t allowed before.

The approving vote did not secure the Coyotes a chance to go forward with building an arena district, but a “no” vote would have meant Tempe declined the request for proposal (RFP) submitted in September 2021.

Gutierrez told Bickley & Marotta on Tuesday that the team began talks with Tempe immediately after the city voted on June 2. He said the Coyotes are confident there are no major hurdles to cover with the city of Phoenix, the Federal Aviation Administration or Sky Harbor International Airport regarding plans for the entertainment district.

The FAA had issued concerns over the proposal including residential units that would be impacted by the noise created by the flight path from one of the airport’s main runways.

“We understand Tempe’s desire to develop this land east of the Airport, and Phoenix Sky Harbor is not in opposition to the Tempe Entertainment District development as a whole,” Sky Harbor officials said in a release after the city council vote. “Our concern has been and remains with the proposed residential high rise which would violate the terms of an intergovernmental agreement (IGA from 1994) between Phoenix and Tempe.”

Gutierrez said the Coyotes are “confident” their application to move forward with their plans will be approved by the FAA.

“We made it very clear that this intergovernmental agreement between the city of Tempe and city of Phoenix does allow all the uses, including the residential that we’ve proposed,” Gutierrez said.

Now, the process involves talks between the city, but Gutierrez said discussions with residents of Tempe will be a key piece to advancing toward cementing plans.

The team believes the vote on June 2 was the first step in beginning that conversation with citizens before an agreement can be reached that allows the Coyotes to begin remediation of the land that once served as a landfill.

“(The fans) saw the live-work-play entertainment district and sports district that we are proposing,” he said. “Getting that out to folks in Tempe, having them understand that taxpayers will not be at risk whatsoever (is a priority). We will be putting up the money. There are bonds that we are requesting but the collateral for those bonds are the land we are buying and the real estate that we are developing.

“This is not just an arena project. This is an urban redevelopment project that will be best-in-class around the country and it will happen to (include a) best-in-class sports facility that would be the home of our team.”

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