Arizona Coyotes exploring Coliseum as temporary home

Dec 9, 2015, 5:16 PM | Updated: Dec 10, 2015, 11:17 am
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The Coyotes have met at least twice with officials from Arizona Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum about playing there on a temporary basis after their arena lease and management agreement with the City of Glendale expires in 2017, Jen Yee, the assistant executive director of the Arizona Exposition and State Fair (which includes the Coliseum) confirmed on Wednesday.

Among those who attended the meetings were team executives including Coyotes CEO and president Anthony LeBlanc, outside consultants, including recently hired arena consultant Mitchel Ziets, and Coyotes construction partners. Yee said the party toured the coliseum on both occasions.

Arizona Sports reported on Nov. 2 that there are at least three possibilities for a new home for the Coyotes in the Valley after their agreement with Glendale expires following the 2016-17 NHL season: a shared arena with the NBA’s Phoenix Suns downtown, an arena that could be shared with Arizona State University’s hockey team (possibly on campus), and an arena along the 101 corridor.

Any of those options would require significant planning and construction time, so the Coyotes could need a temporary home for several years. The Coyotes practiced at the Coliseum when they first arrived in the Valley from Winnipeg for the 1996-97 season. They also held their first training camp there.

The Coliseum, which sits just east of 19th Ave. on McDowell Road, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and has a diverse sports history.

It opened in 1965 at a cost of $7 million ($52.6 million in current dollars) and was home to the NBA’s Suns from 1968 to 1992. It also housed two hockey teams in three leagues. The Phoenix Roadrunners played in the WHA from 1974–1977 and in the IHL from 1989–1997. The Phoenix Mustangs played in the WCHL from 1997–2001. The Coliseum has also housed minor league indoor soccer, basketball, roller hockey and even roller derby.

Yee said the current capacity for hockey is about 12,500 and there are no luxury suites, but that could change.

“That would have to be discussed, but I’m sure there are ways of adding suites and adding seats,” she said.

The Coliseum’s age would also likely necessitate other renovations and upgrades. Yee said the discussions with the Coyotes are ongoing, but she termed those discussions “very preliminary.”

The Coyotes declined comment on the meetings but a source familiar with the team’s temporary arena explorations said the meetings with Coliseum officials do not rule out the possibility of playing in another Valley venue, including Talking Stick Resort Arena in downtown Phoenix, home of the Suns.

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