The Arizona Coyotes will share an arena with Arizona State University for at least the next three seasons.
The NHL team announced the agreement with ASU was approved by the Arizona Board of Regents, which oversees the state's public university system.
According to the Coyotes, the team will play their home games at ASU's new 5,000-seat arena -- scheduled to open in the fall -- from 2022-23 through 2024-25, with an option for the 2025-26 campaign.
“We are thrilled that we have arranged to play our home games in Arizona State University’s new multi-purpose arena starting next season,” said Coyotes president and CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez. “This will be an incredible, intimate and exciting fan experience in a state-of-the-art new arena in a fantastic location in the heart of Tempe. We are very grateful to Dr. Crow, the ASU Administration, ASU Athletic Department and the Arizona Board of Regents for agreeing to provide us with this temporary arena solution for our team as we continue our efforts to secure a long-term home for the Coyotes in the Valley.”
The Coyotes are in need of a new home after the City of Glendale terminated the team's lease at Gila River Arena effective June 30.
“The National Hockey League thanks Arizona State University for its support of the Coyotes during this transition period and for what will be just its latest major commitment to growing our game in the Valley,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. “Having made the full-time transition to Division I just seven years ago, ASU hockey already has an NCAA Tournament appearance to its credit and now is moving into a new, state-of-the-art facility. Hockey is thriving in Tempe, and we are delighted that the Coyotes’ passionate fans will get to experience ASU’s on-campus energy while the Club’s new arena is being built.”
In September, the Coyotes filed a proposal to build a new $1.7-billion multi-use space in the city of Tempe -- east of Phoenix -- that would include an arena, restaurants, shopping and apartments on a 46-acre piece of land near downtown. The team said it would pay for the project with funding from private investors, but asked the city to provide $200 million to help with additional costs, including infrastructure work.
The team was the only group to propose a project during a bidding process held by the city of Tempe. However, in January Craig Morgan of PHNX Sports reported that the team did not yet have the requisite votes from Tempe city council to get the project approved.
Speaking last week during the NHL's All-Star festivities, Bettman endorsed the partnership with ASU but qualified that endorsement saying that the league would be more comfortable knowing it was temporary and a new arena project was in the works. As of now, the fate of that new project remains in the hands of the city of Tempe.
"At the end of the day, if there has to be a temporary accommodation — knowing that a new building is coming, this obviously can’t be indefinite — I think they can create a terrific experience for people in a more intimate setting," Bettman told reporters. "It wouldn’t be the first time that we were in a small, temporary facility pending the construction of a new arena."
In a statement provided to Morgan late Thursday, the NHLPA said it is discussing "concerns" it has with the league and Coyotes.
"Obviously, this works only in the short term while a new arena is built," the statement reads. "We trust that plans will be finalized and construction will begin as soon as possible."