Gary Bettman, commissioner of North America’s National Hockey League, has called on the Arizona senate to support plans to build a new arena for the state’s NHL franchise, the Coyotes.
The team currently plays at the Gila River Arena in Glendale and the city still owes $145m (£119m/€137m) in taxpayers’ money for the construction of the facility, which was built in 2003.
In his letter to house speaker J.D. Mesnard and senate president Steve Yarbrough, Bettman outlined the Coyotes’ wish to remain in the Phoenix metro area, but cited the current Glendale location as unfeasible in the long-term.
Bettman’s letter, which was reported by the Associated Press news agency, read: “The simple truth? The Coyotes must have a new arena location to succeed. The Coyotes cannot and will not remain in Glendale.”
The AP reports that a bill has been proposed by senator Bob Worsley that would let the Coyotes use half the sales tax generated from a new arena to pay for the facility.
Mesnard quickly issued a statement in response to Bettman. “The NHL first needs to make the case for a state-funded arena to the taxpayers,” the statement read.
“We’re not seeing a lot of enthusiasm that the public wants to foot the bill for a new arena, and until the NHL can win over taxpayers, they’re going to have a tough sell at the legislature.”
The Coyotes were last month dealt a blow in their search for a new arena when Arizona State University pulled out of a deal to build a new facility in Tempe.