Coyotes say they’re committing to winning land auction to build arena in Phoenix

Members of the Arizona State University hockey team skate on the ice at the new Mullett Arena, Monday, Oct. 24, 2022, in Tempe, Ariz. The university will be sharing the arena with the Arizona Coyotes NHL hockey team. (Ross D. Franklin/AP)

The Arizona Coyotes said Thursday night they’re committed to win a land auction that could pave the way for the NHL club to remain in the Phoenix area after years of arena uncertainty.

The team hopes to buy the 110-acre (445,154 square meter) plot of land on the Northwest corner of Scottsdale Road and the Loop 101 in north Phoenix and build a privately funded arena and entertainment district.

The Arizona State Land Department set the auction for June 27 in a legal notice published Thursday. The starting bid is $68.5 million.

“Arizona is our home, and an incredible market where the Coyotes belong,” owner Alex Meruelo said in a statement. “This district would provide a beautiful home for the Arizona Coyotes for decades to come. Our loyal fans deserve this vibrant gathering place that would serve as a landmark to create lifelong memories.”

The Coyotes are nearing the end of their second season at a 5,000-seat rink on Arizona State’s campus while looking for a long-term solution. NHL Players’ Association executive director Marty Walsh has voiced concern about being the second tenant in that small of a building, saying several deadlines have passed.

This plan is another ray of hope. The Coyotes plan to construct a 17,000-seat arena along with a new practice facility, a concert venue, restaurants and more.

Commissioner Gary Bettman in an interview with The Associated Press last month said Meruelo was working on the situation.

“It’s hard work, and he’s committed to it,” Bettman said, declining to put a deadline on the process. “I think sooner rather than later. I think people are craving certainty. And we are, too, but this isn’t a 60-minute game where the light goes on and the game’s over. He’s working on it. We still have some time.”

Meruelo and president and CEO Xavier Gutierrez over the past year have shifted focus to an arena plan that would not require voter approval, after a referendum was rejected by Tempe voters.

“We are thrilled by the prospects of building this historic development for Arizona Coyotes fans and fans in waiting,” Gutierrez said. “This is more than just an arena project — it is a best-in-class urban redevelopment project that would transform a perfectly located parcel of land into an Arizona landmark, and create a vibrant neighborhood for individuals to live, work and play.”

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