The Arizona Coyotes confirmed they have submitted a proposal to build an arena in Tempe, Arizona, after the city of Glendale announced it would not renew its operating agreement with the team at Gila River Arena following this season.
“We remain incredibly excited about this extraordinary opportunity,” the Coyotes told the Arizona Republic on Thursday.
The Coyotes, who told the newspaper they could not comment further, reportedly would like to build an arena and entertainment district on 46 acres of land.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman recently said the Coyotes would remain in the Phoenix area. They have played at Gila River Arena since the start of the 2003-04 season.
“I’m not worried about the Coyotes,” Commissioner Bettman told WFAN 660 AM in New York on Aug. 19, the day Glendale announced it would not renew the agreement. “I think their future stays in the greater Phoenix area.”
As part of a year-by-year lease agreement between the Coyotes and Glendale, either party was able to decide not to renew for an additional year by providing written notice each year on or before Dec. 31.
“We are disappointed by today’s unilateral decision by the City of Glendale to break off negotiations on a multi-year lease extension agreement,” Coyotes president and CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez said. “We are hopeful that they will reconsider a move that would primarily damage the small businesses and hard-working citizens of Glendale. We remain open to restarting good-faith negotiations with the City.
“Most importantly, the Coyotes are 100 percent committed to finding a long-term arena solution here in Arizona, and nothing will shake our determination to do what is right for our organization, residents of the entire Valley and, most important, our fans.”
Commissioner Bettman said it was the latest step in talks between the two parties.
“First of all, I don’t think the Coyote franchise is going anywhere,” he said. “I think the city of Glendale is negotiating.
“There’s no secret that Alex Meruelo, who’s the owner of the Coyotes, is looking at his options to build a new arena somewhere else in greater Phoenix and I think the city of Glendale basically said to the Coyotes, you have to sign a 20-year lease or we’re not going to renew.”
The Coyotes relocated from Winnipeg to Phoenix for the 1996-97 season and played at America West Arena downtown until moving to Glendale. They changed their geographic name from Phoenix to Arizona on June 27, 2014.