When it was announced about a week ago that the city of Glendale will not renew the Arizona Coyotes’ lease at Gila River Arena, things sounded bleak. The Arizona Coyotes rumours were everywhere. Will they relocate to Houston, Quebec City, or Kansas City? As it turned out the team has made it abundantly clear that they intend to stay in Arizona.
Possible Tempe Arena Tops Arizona Coyotes Rumours
The city of Glendale claims that this is NOT a negotiation ploy to get more money out of the Coyotes if they could come to some sort of agreement. They seem to feel that they can fill about 20 events with averaging 10,000 tickets sold at each event. While that may seem doable, what must be remembered is that there are other venues in the Phoenix area that they will be competing against.
The possibility of the team moving to a brand spanking new arena in the east valley has to be an exciting venture. The majority of the team’s fan base resides in the east valley. No more complaints of hockey fans fighting traffic on a weeknight to see a hockey game. Add in the fact that you would have thousands of students who could attend games. That makes things become perfectly clear why they must move.
Arizona Coyotes Rumours Include the Need To Find an Alternative Place To Play
Many surveys have been conducted as to where fans think the team may go. That includes where they can play if indeed the Tempe arena project is approved. The most popular conceivable local location seems to be Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum at the state fairgrounds.
While the building there is quite old (built in 1965) it has some possibilities. It can hold 13,730 and has capacity for standing room only also. Per a source close to the team, it may take from $5 – $10 million to replace the ice-making equipment. If the concrete floor is in need of replacement, that increases the cost significantly.
Why Owner Alex Meruelo Wants To Keep the Team Here
Besides the pledge the owner made when he bought the team, Meruelo has a much larger stake in keeping the Coyotes in Arizona. He owns a casino in Reno, Nevada and can actually open his own sports gambling business due to the new betting law passed in Arizona. Because he owns the hockey team he will be given a sports gambling license and he knows how to use it.
Another huge factor according to that source is that he and his company have lined up private funding in the amount of $1.2 billion to build the arena and add in amenities to attract fans. With public financing having such a bad taste in the mouths of citizens footing the bill for a sports facility, this is the way forward for most sports facilities.
Private Funding Is the Way To Go
The Seattle Kraken did this with their $1 billion remodel of Key Arena. Now, it’s not certain yet if Meruelo will need to pay anything more than the renovations at the Coliseum. He could pitch in and add to the private funding to get the Tempe arena built.
Per the source again, the clearing and moving of the city of Tempe compost yard will be paid by Tempe, not Meruelo. That has got to be icing on the cake for a very favourable deal if you’re Meruelo. That helps him twofold. He receives the down-the-road sports gambling revenue. And by remodelling the Coliseum, he has helped the center city area gain another sheet of ice to help grow the game in Arizona.
It’s a win-win situation.
September 2nd, We’ll Know More
The team has presented a bid to the City of Tempe. Soon we should know more about the future of the Tempe arena. If for some reason, the bid is not accepted, then Meruelo and company will need to have an unknown backup plan.
If Meruelo is forced to move or sell the team due to not finding a place to play; he could be out about $200 million gained from sports gambling profits. He is an astute businessman and won’t let that happen.
Many Things Need To Happen
Once the Tempe location is approved and the team and the city have an agreement; the next step would be to get NHL approval for the Coyotes to play games in the Coliseum. Will it meet standards? Will the east valley fans be happier commuting to central Phoenix, rather than going all the way to the northwest valley suburb of Glendale? Yet to be determined.
The Future of the Coyotes and a New Arena
It goes without saying that with the Coyotes in the midst of a rebuild, their future looks great. Next year general manager Bill Armstrong‘s deft moves have potted the team 11 total draft picks. He has an amazing two first-rounders and five (not a misprint) second-rounders to help build a winner.
Rebuilds take time and with the possibility of a new arena completed in say three-four years the team should be much more competitive by then. While all this sounds fine and dandy don’t forget that the team is plagued with rotten luck. Can this turn things around?
We can only hope.