It seems many Arizona Coyotes followers are concerned over the fate of their team’s existence in Arizona. Ever since the city of Glendale decided to end the year-to-year lease to use Gila River arena next summer, all kinds of concerns have arisen. Will the team relocate elsewhere? If they remain in Arizona, where is an alternative building that is set up for NHL hockey? The Arizona Coyotes arena issue has been a hot topic of discussion.
It’s also intriguing that the Coyotes’ billionaire owner Alex Meruelo doesn’t seem too concerned about the deadline set by Glendale. He may have a backup plan to play at Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Or, perhaps he can negotiate with Glendale to sign a short-term lease of three or four years. This would give Meruelo time to get the potential Tempe site land cleared and prepare it for new construction. It is now being used as a compost and maintenance yard. Environmental tests must be done and when that happens it slows down the entire process.
Alex Meruelo Will Strike it Rich With Tempe Arena Project
Meruelo has been silent about all of this, while he allows his CEO, Xavier Gutierrez, to handle things. Well, see now that Meruelo has an Arizona sports gambling license by virtue of owning the hockey team, his financial rewards are going to be just fine. He owns a construction company that will assist him in building a new arena on the Tempe site. The team made an official bid recently. There were no other bidders. He has a background in the food industry. He bought a failing pizza restaurant and called his new business La Pizza Loca. Within five years, La Pizza Loca opened 12 locations and reached $10 million in sales.
Meruelo knows how to make a business profitable. With the new proposed entertainment district on the Tempe site, he will have his hands in lots of pie… the kind that has money as a filling. He also owns the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nevada and the Sahara Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada; he’s very familiar with gambling. More than likely a hotel and restaurants will be included in the plans for around the new Arizona Coyotes arena.
Sports Gambling is Now Legal in Arizona
Don’t think that Meruelo wasn’t aware that sports gambling was going to happen in the Grand Canyon state. If the Tempe arena site goes to fruition, he is in for a large increase to his already huge bank account. His net worth is about $2 billion. So, even if the Coyotes are forced to play at Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum, he can afford to renovate the building and bring it up to speed for the NHL to approve the move there.
It may cost him in excess of $8 million to merely fix the ice-making equipment in the building. The structure was erected in 1965. Other updates to the building will need to be done, but does Meruelo really want to spend that kind of money for a temporary home? He may be forced to if he can’t work out an extension of the arena lease with Glendale. The projections for how much revenue Meruelo may receive from sports gambling is yet to be determined. He is certainly in a good place with plenty of background to make it happen once the new arena gets built.
By the Time the Arena is Built, the Coyotes Could be a Very Competitive Team
While in the midst of a rebuild, Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong is gathering draft picks like they were dust in the wind. He may not be done yet, but even if he is, his treasure chest of draft selections is impressive. So, if the new Tempe arena is built in say four years, Armstrong should have the foundation of a pretty good team. All of this is very speculative as even Armstrong may not be able to predict if a draft choice will succeed or not.
Yet, the rebuild was inevitable seeing that the team was floundering aimlessly under previous management and ownership. After this season (which will not be enjoyable at all), Armstrong will have more expiring contracts. He will have 12 unrestricted free agents and three restricted free agents to deal with. He may keep some of the players, but more than likely will allow them to sign elsewhere or trade them.
Just as Meruelo has expertise in running and turning a profit for a business, Armstrong has the skill to draft well and work the cap space ledger. Between the two of them, this team has some excellent potential to be a successful franchise once and for all. The addition of a new Arizona Coyotes arena in Tempe is just the beginning. Drafting exciting new young players will put this team on the map.
A lot of plans may not come to fruition, but the path the Arizona Coyotes are taking is one that is built on the future. The team has been here in the Valley for 25 years. It’s about time that they start showing they’re a class organization. The seeds are being laid, now the hard work begins.