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Monday, May 27, 2024

Coyotes’ Arena Options in Arizona Are Drying Up. Is Relocation Next?

  • Scottsdale’s mayor cites water, infrastructure, and retail issues with the team’s site proposal.
  • The team has also raised the prospect of relocation if the latest proposal fails.
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

A third municipality in the Phoenix area has put up obstacles in the Coyotes’ long-running effort to build a new arena, raising more doubts about whether the NHL team will ultimately survive in the Valley of the Sun. 

Just days after the Coyotes announced plans to bid on a 110-acre parcel of land in north Phoenix and develop a $3 billion arena and mixed-use development there, the mayor of the neighboring city of Scottsdale has blasted those intentions as “fantasy.” The opposition adds to the team’s prior struggles in Glendale, where leaders terminated the team’s lease agreement for Gila River Arena, and in Tempe, where voters rejected an arena development referendum. 

“The prospect of a rookie developer attempting to buy Arizona State Trust Land with absolutely no infrastructure … at the doorstep of Scottsdale is not feasible, or welcome,” Scottsdale mayor David Ortega wrote in an op-ed in the Arizona Digital Free Press.

Ortega went on to say the Coyotes presented the plan “without mention of market demand for a new entertainment venue disguised as a hockey arena, or congested highway access, or questionable arena zoning entitlement.”

The foremost issues at hand for Ortega: the lack of water and sewer lines at the site, as well as the project’s proximity to “the retail lions of Scottsdale.” The mayor added that “Scottsdale water assets are absolutely not available,” an unsurprising stance given the entire Phoenix area has grappled with an extended shortage due to climate change, and particularly shortfalls in the Colorado River that is a crucial local water source.  

Relocation Rumblings

The Coyotes have not commented on Ortega’s statement, and the issues he raises are not necessarily insurmountable. But already, the team’s margin for error on the project is thin. If the Coyotes fail to win the land auction, team officials have said that relocation becomes a very real option. 

Even before that, Salt Lake City had already made its intentions known of having an NHL franchise there, and the NHL Players’ Association has also pushed for a solution to the Coyotes’ arena problems that have stretched over many years. 

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