Coyotes’ LeBlanc clears up questions about possible Tempe arena

Nov 15, 2016, 11:34 AM | Updated: 7:20 pm

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LISTEN: Anthony LeBlanc, Arizona Coyotes President and CEO

The Arizona Coyotes announced Monday they have partnered with Arizona State University to work towards the possible construction of a new arena.

The plan is to build a 16,000-plus seat arena at the northwest corner of McClintock Drive and Rio Salado Parkway on Karsten Golf Course in Tempe, Arizona.

Sources stressed the agreement that was announced on Monday is not to build an arena on the site, but instead it is basically an announcement that the two sides will now begin to talk about the process. But doesn’t this mean they have already been talking?

“What we needed to do was formalize an agreement that would allow us both to go talk to public sector partners,” president and CEO of the Coyotes Anthony LeBlanc told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Tuesday. “Obviously Arizona State University answers into the Arizona Board of Regents and they don’t like doing things that they haven’t fully briefed the Board of Regents and memorialized it in some fashion. Quite candidly, we’re a hockey team that has a group of owners, like Mr. Barroway; we like to do the same thing. So we really felt more comfortable having some parameters of what the final deal would look like if we got everything put together, and we have done that.”

LeBlanc said the Coyotes and ASU started discussions about a partnership several months ago. But the focus of those talks were centered around partnering up to build a 4,000-seat arena for the Sun Devils new Division-I hockey team, and attach a practice facility for the Coyotes.

Then news hit that the city of Glendale voted to cancel its lease agreement with the team. Talks then transformed into making an arena where the Coyotes can play games, and attach a facility where the Sun Devils can as well.

Now the question for many is how is this plan going to come into fruition? It’s going to cost a lot of money, as many sporting facilities do, and LeBlanc said Monday the cost would be in the $400 million range which the team expects to be responsible for half of. But that other $200 million isn’t going to come straight from taxpayers pockets, which was a misconception that many people had after the announcement, according to LeBlanc.

“We’re not going out – and I read all the reports over the past 24 hours, people saying that we’re looking for $200 million from the state, that’s not accurate. What we are looking for is purely a refund on a portion, just a portion, of taxes that are generated within this development. That’s it,” LeBlanc said. “And furthermore, we’re not looking for the state to hold the bag, so to speak. We, as the Coyotes, will actually guarantee that if the taxes that we are speculating and that we are forecasting, if they are not met, if it is a dollar short, the Coyotes will be the one to cover that off. So what we’re looking for is just a portion of a revenue stream that would not exist if the arena was not there. That’s it.”

The next step in the plan is putting together the public-private partnership, according to LeBlanc. People automatically assume this is going to cost taxpayers a lot of money, but the way they are preparing to structure the money and how often these deals happen that people don’t really hear about, it is “a very reasonable request.”

“The problem that I have is because it’s a sports arena, people automatically just put this negative spin on it. And what we’re asking for is very commercial, very taxpayer-friendly,” LeBlanc said. “We’re not asking for any general funds and this is a very typical economic recruitment, or economic development or retention that you would see from any corporation and that’s all we’re looking for.

“So hopefully once we go through the process and explain, ‘No, we’re not looking for the state or the city to write a $200 million check.’ The Coyotes are standing behind it. Hopefully people will start to turn.”

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