Arizona Coyotes CEO: Glendale may want us to stay, but not being realistic
We’ve hit another chapter in the Arizona Coyotes’ saga with the city of Glendale.
On Thursday, Mayor Jerry Weiers said in his State of the City address that he wants the team to continue to play at Gila River Arena, despite the city cancelling a 15-year lease deal with the team this past summer.
“I need to be clear about this: I want the Coyotes to stay in Glendale,” he said. “The city wants the Coyotes to remain in Glendale.”
The team and city agreed to a new two-year lease option in June, but the deal left an opening for Glendale to hire a new arena manager. The Coyotes’ ownership group did not apply.
Weiers attempted to put the puck in the Coyotes’ rink when he said “We invited the Coyotes to bid on the (arena management deal) and they chose not to” during his Thursday speech.
However, Coyotes co-owner and CEO Anthony LeBlanc told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s Doug & Wolf on Friday morning that the team did not submit a bid to manage the arena because it refused to participate in a “flawed process.”
“It really is like talking to a wall where common sense and logic are not prevailing,” he said.
LeBlanc said when the team was managing the arena under a now-cancelled deal with the city, it increased the annual number of events held at the facility and bumped revenues to Glendale by $1 million year-over-year.
LeBlanc said the city did not need to find a new arena manager to fix its perceived problems.
“I don’t know what (Weiers) was trying to fix,” LeBlanc said.
He said the city is relying on the opinions of “seven councilmembers that have no expertise and no understanding of the arena sports business” to make its decisions.
“I think they do want us to stay, but I don’t think they’re looking through a realistic lens of what that means,” LeBlanc said.
The CEO compared the Coyotes’ saga to that of the Florida Panthers in Broward County, Florida. Facing a possible relocation, the team and county reached a deal that would keep the team at the BB&T Center through 2028 after officials feared a departure would cost them more than keeping the team.
Glendale may not be able to do the same.
“At the end of the day, we’ve essentially moved on,” LeBlanc said.
The Coyotes have been in talks with three suitors shortly after the team’s latest arena troubles began. LeBlanc said all three options — a shared arena with the Phoenix Suns in downtown, a partnership with Arizona State University or a rumored arena in Scottsdale’s Loop 101 corridor — are being pursued aggressively.
“I feel very strongly that multiple options will be on the table and that will transpire over the next several weeks,” he said.
LeBlanc also said the team is happy to see the growth of youth hockey in the desert and is strongly considering bringing its American Hockey League affiliate closer to Arizona, but did not go into detail.
Despite strained relations with the city, the team is not yet done with Glendale. A new arena — should one be built — would take at least three years to complete, according to LeBlanc.
Though the team is considering the Arizona Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum as a temporary home, LeBlanc would “rather not move twice in five years.” He said the team would be open to signing another short-term lease to keep the team in Glendale while it awaits a new home.