Report: Coyotes' arena operator says team still owes rent money

Arizona Coyotes players and coaches pause on the ice during NHL hockey practice at Gila River Arena, Monday, July 13, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (Ross D. Franklin/AP Photo)

The Arizona Coyotes' arena operator says the NHL team still owes more than $2.706 million for rent and other expenses, Craig Morgan of PHNX Sports reports.

The Coyotes said earlier Thursday that all bills and taxes owing to the City of Glendale and the state of Arizona were paid, one day after it was reported they might be locked out of their building if they didn't pay up.

Morgan writes that ASM Global, which operates Gila River Arena, received a cheque that brings the Coyotes current on game-day expenses, but not on rent.

ASM Global, Morgan reports, has sent a letter to the Coyotes with a schedule for timing of future payments.

The letter states the Coyotes still have outstanding bill of more than $2.706 million for rent, naming rights and sponsorship rights, among other expenses. The letter says the Coyotes must make a payment of $990,703.98 by Dec. 20.

Morgan writes the Coyotes dropped off another cheque that makes the team current on payments for the prior season.

The Coyotes declined comment when asked about Morgan's report by Sportsnet.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, speaking at the league's board of governors meeting in Florida, declined to go into detail about the Coyotes' situation when asked.

"There's no problem, but we'll deal with that tomorrow," Bettman said.

The Athletic's Katie Strang had reported on Wednesday that the City of Glendale was owed about $250,000 in unpaid city taxes for use of Gila River Arena, home of the Coyotes.

Further, Strang reported the Arizona Department of Revenue filed a tax lien notice against the company that owns the Coyotes for more than $1.3 million earlier this month.

According to Strang, if the debt hadn't been settled by Dec. 20, the City of Glendale had told arena managers to deny team employees access to the arena.

In a statement late Wednesday, the Coyotes blamed an "unfortunate human error" for the unpaid bills and pledged to settle the accounts Thursday.

The Coyotes had been leasing Gila River Arena on an annual basis since the Glendale City Council voted to opt-out of a multimillion-dollar long-term deal in 2016. Glendale announced recently that it will not renew its agreement with the franchise beyond the 2021-22 season.

The Coyotes have played at Gila River Arena since moving from America West Arena, which they shared with the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, in downtown Phoenix in 2003.

In September, the Coyotes proposed a $1.7 billion development in Tempe, a city just east of Phoenix, that included a hockey arena, restaurants, shops and apartments on a 46-acre tract of land near the city's downtown.

The team said the arena would be funded by private investors, but would seek city sales tax revenues to help pay for $200 million in additional costs, including infrastructure work.

The city of Tempe said the evaluation process would take several months and will include extensive examinations, with opportunities for community feedback.

Last week, the Coyotes issued a statement denying a report which said the team was up for sale and could be relocated to Houston.

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