The Tempe City Council voted 7-0 on Tuesday in favour of the proposed arena and entertainment district that would house the Arizona Coyotes — a step forward in finding the team a long-term home following their eviction from Gila River Arena in Glendale following the 2021-22 season.
The choice will now be with the residents of Tempe in a local referendum held on May 16.
“The Arizona Coyotes and the Meruelo family are deeply thankful to the Tempe City Council for their unanimous support and cannot wait to move forward on this transformational development,” Coyotes president and CEO Xavier Gutierrez said in a statement. “Our project will turn a landfill into a landmark — and one that not only provides a wonderful home for the Coyotes but also serves as a vibrant town square for Tempe, generating thousands of sustainable jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue for the City.”
The team is proposing to build an arena on a 46-acre site in Tempe, a suburb of Phoenix, with hotels, retail stores, restaurants and apartments as part of the plan.
In June, Tempe council awarded the Coyotes the exclusive right to negotiate a project on the piece of land — which is currently a city dump.
The Coyotes will play home games in Mullett Arena at Arizona State University through the 2024-25 season, with an option to extend to the 2025-26 season, after the city of Glendale cut ties with the franchise over tax delinquencies and unpaid rink charges at Gila River Arena.
“We’re very enthused about the prospects for the Tempe Entertainment District,” said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who attended Tuesday’s council meeting. “Obviously, the Coyotes need a new arena and (majority owner) Alex Meruelo’s commitment to this franchise and to Arizona has been unwavering and he has our support. … If you go back over the last 25 years I guess it is, our commitment to Arizona has never wavered and hopefully, we can get to a place where a new arena here will be a reality.
“We are very respectful of the process, supportive of the process and we’re here tonight to be supportive of Alex, the team and the city.”