The City of Glendale is terminating the Arizona Coyotes' lease for the city-owned Gila River Arena, leaving the NHL franchise without a home after the upcoming 2021-22 season.
"With an increased focus on larger, more impactful events and uses of the city-owned arena, the city of Glendale has chosen to not renew the operating agreement for the Arizona Coyotes beyond the coming 2021-22 season," a statement from the city reads.
According to a statement, the team and the city have been operating on a year-by-year lease agreement "for several years" with an annual Dec. 31 deadline for either party to choose not to continue the arrangement.
The building -- previously named the Glendale Arena and Jobing.com Arena -- has been home to the Coyotes since it opened in December of 2003.
"We are thankful to the NHL and the Arizona Coyotes for being part of the Glendale community for the past 18 years," Glendale City manager Kevin Phelps said in a statement. "The decision not to renew the operating agreement with the Coyotes was not made overnight or in a vacuum. We carefully weighed input from key stakeholders, our expert economist, our arena management firm and our city council."
According to reporting by Katie Strang of The Athletic, the decision comes after "stalled negotiations" between the city and team over a lease extension and potential renovations to the arena. But "multiple notices" of unpaid bills by the team to the city also contributed to the parting of ways.
In a statement, the Coyotes expressed their disappointment with the announcement from the city of Glendale and said they remain committed to keeping the team in Arizona.
"We are disappointed by today's unilateral decision by the City of Glendale to break off negotiations on a multi-year lease extension agreement. 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," Coyotes president and CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez said in a statement.
"Most importantly, the Coyotes are one hundred 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."
Public records obtained by Strang show that Phelps informed the arena's management company, ASM Global, that the team owed $1,462,792 to the arena as of July 17.
“We’ve reached that point of no return,” Phelps said in an interview with The Athletic. “There’s no wavering.”
Strang adds that the team will need to vacate the facility, which also houses the organization's management offices, by June 30.
The decision will renew discussion around the hockey world over the team's long-term future in the state of Arizona. One option, if the team were to be relocated, is Quebec City, which applied for an expansion franchise in 2015 and is home to the Vidéotron Centre which opened in 2015.