- Karla Uriarte
The Arizona Coyotes aren’t done in the desert just yet
The Arizona Coyotes have announced their immediate plans to stay in the desert for the upcoming 2023-24 season, despite the recent defeat of their arena referendum in Tempe.
In a disappointing outcome for the Arizona Coyotes and the National Hockey League (NHL), over 56% of voters in Tempe, Arizona, rejected a proposal on Tuesday that would have included the construction of a $2.1 billion arena and entertainment district for the NHL team. Early returns indicate a lack of support for the project, however, the team will continue playing at the 4,600-seat Mullett Arena on the Arizona State University campus. There is no long-term plan in place for the Coyotes to stay in Phoenix or the surrounding area which has significant implications for the future of the franchise. Ironically, the Tempe proposal being rejected comes after the Coyotes budgeted $250 thousand for promotion of the endeavor as well as labor unions who weren’t guaranteed jobs in the projects budgeted $2.5 million against the project. The proposed $2.1 billion privately funded project aimed to create an expansive entertainment district in Tempe. The centerpiece of the development was a 16,000-seat arena, which would have served as the new home for the Arizona Coyotes. Additionally, the project included plans for two hotels, retail shops, restaurants, and up to 1,990 residential units, all contributing to the overall economic impact of the area. The outcome of this vote underscores the challenges the Coyotes have faced in establishing a stable and successful presence in Arizona. From 2003 to 2022, the Arizona Coyotes called the Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale their home. Prior to that, the team shared the downtown Phoenix arena, currently named the Footprint Center, with the Phoenix Suns. However, the Footprint Center has undergone significant renovations that have eliminated its ability to accommodate a hockey team. Coyotes' President, Xavier Gutierrez, expressed his disappointment with the voting outcome. "We are very disappointed Tempe voters did not approve Propositions 301, 302, and 303," Gutierrez stated. He further added, "What is next for the franchise will be evaluated by our owners and the National Hockey League over the coming weeks." With the failure of the proposal, relocation talk has intensified. Cities like Houston, Atlanta and Kansas City, with their large media markets and existing or planned hockey-ready arenas, are likely to be considered as potential new homes for the Coyotes. Salt Lake City is also mentioned as a relocation possibility. Nevertheless, for the time being, the team has confirmed that they will remain in Tempe for the upcoming year.