NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on potential Coyotes arena: ‘We love being here’

Apr 13, 2023, 6:00 PM | Updated: Apr 14, 2023, 8:40 am

FILE - In this Dec. 4, 2018, file photo, National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks at...

FILE - In this Dec. 4, 2018, file photo, National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks at a press conference at the Board of Governors annual meeting in Sea Island, Ga. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, File)

(AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, File)

It is no surprise that the NHL has wanted the Coyotes to stay in Arizona and has been a supporter of the team building a new arena in Tempe.

Commissioner Gary Bettman was in Phoenix to speak on the benefits of the new stadium and entertainment district. Tempe residents next month will vote on whether to approve the multi-billion-dollar project.

“I’m not sure over the last 2.5 decades, any sports league could have been any more supportive, including buying the team out of bankruptcy by the league so it could stay here,” Bettman told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo Show on Thursday. “We love being here, it is an important part of our footprint. Arizona is great for sports, and we would lose something if we weren’t here.”

“We are a part of a growing, thriving community and we want to continue to be a part of that. Having an owner like Alex Meruelo to not only invest in the team but invest in Tempe with resources that are necessary to do it, shows the same type of commitment that we have shown to Arizona since the Coyotes came here.”

Bettman said a new arena would not only bring the Coyotes a new home but bring a new hub to the NHL, similar to how Las Vegas has become to the NFL.

The commissioner said a new arena could bring an NHL draft, the hosting of an All-Star game and potentially hosting an outdoor game at Sun Devil Stadium.

Bettman discussed that despite the constant chatter of other states around the country or cities in Canada wanting new teams, this stadium deal is the only thing the league has been focusing on.

“I am not going there,” Bettman said. “I have been asked that question probably 40 times today and the answer is we are focused on the referendum and getting it passed. We are not focused on anything else right now.

The Coyotes recently filed a $2.3 billion claim with the city of Phoenix on April 5, caused by Phoenix’s legal filing on March 27 that acted against the NHL team’s plans to build a hockey arena and entertainment district in Tempe.

The formal complaint in Maricopa County Superior Court has Phoenix, the owners and operators of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, suing Tempe for a breach of contract, “asking the court to rescind Tempe’s recent zoning and land use changes and prohibit future residential uses in an area that the Federal Aviation Administration says is incompatible with residential development.”

Tempe voters will decide on the arena with votes on props 301, 302 and 303 on May 16. Ballots will be mailed April 19.

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