Arizona Coyotes reportedly eyeing northeast Phoenix land for new arena site

Dec 5, 2023, 10:09 AM

Xavier Gutierrez, Arizona Coyotes president and CEO...

Arizona Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo attends the 2023 NHL Draft at the Bridgestone Arena on June 28, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Arizona Coyotes are “finalizing the purchase” of land in the city of Phoenix with plans to build the team’s new arena there, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger.

PHNX Sports’ Craig Morgan on Sunday first reported the intention by the NHL team to pursue a specific plot of land in northeast Phoenix near the Scottsdale border.

In August, Meruelo put in a letter of intent to purchase 41 acres in Mesa for the team’s new arena. The Phoenix Business Journal reported that site is located around Alma School Road and Loop 202.

Meruelo and the Coyotes at the time said they were looking into other possible sites, with land being considered in Mesa, Phoenix and Scottsdale, according to Arizona Sports‘ John Gambadoro.

“The Coyotes remain committed to building the first privately funded sports facility in Arizona history and ensuring the Valley as the Club’s permanent home. In addition to this property in Mesa, the Club will continue to explore other potential sites in the East Valley,” the team said in an Aug. 8 statement“We appreciate the tremendous support that we have received from many communities, elected officials, and community leaders who have expressed their desire to see the Coyotes remain in the Valley permanently.

If the Coyotes acquire and clear development plans for land in the next several months, the franchise would still fall in a timeline to build a new arena as if they had been granted the ability to develop land in Tempe that came down to a failed public vote in May. That land, a former landfill, required remediation before it could be built on.

Why are the Arizona Coyotes searching for new arena land?

The Coyotes have been searching for a permanent home since the city of Glendale pulled out of a multimillion-dollar lease at Gila River Arena. Arizona had been playing on an annual lease until Glendale said it would not be renewed for the 2022-23 season.

The franchise is currently playing at Arizona State’s Mullett Arena for the 2023-24 season, as it did the season prior, while exploring building a permanent home elsewhere. The 5,000-seat capacity Mullett Arena is by far the NHL’s smallest arena.

The Coyotes and ASU have a deal for the pro team to play two more years at the arena with an option for 2025-26.

The Tempe public vote in mid-May stopped the Coyotes from moving forward and building a new arena and entertainment district near Priest Drive and Rio Salado Parkway.

The $2.1 billion project was expected to create a 16,000-seat arena, practice rink, 300,000 square feet of upscale retail, 1,600 apartments, two hotels and a theater. Prop 301, Prop 302 and Prop 303 all had to pass for the Coyotes to move forward and all were turned down by voters.

With that plan squashed, talks of backup plans or relocation have since swirled around the organization.

The Coyotes began play in Arizona by sharing America West Arena, which is now called Footprint Center, with the NBA’s Phoenix Suns during the 1996-97 season after relocating from Winnipeg, Manitoba, where they were known as the Jets.

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