The Arizona Coyotes NHL ice hockey team is in talks with Arizona State University (ASU) over a deal to play games at the latter’s new arena when the franchise leaves the city of Glendale.
The Coyotes have a lease deal to continue playing at Gila River Arena (pictured) in Glendale until the end of the 2021-22 season. The team has played at the arena since 2003 but its relationship with the City of Glendale has been strained.
The Coyotes are likely to leave Glendale at the end of this season and in September the team revealed plans for a $1.7bn (£1.3bn/€1.5bn) development in the city of Tempe. The wide-ranging project would be anchored by a 16,000-seat arena, which the Coyotes hope to move into by 2025.
Should the Coyotes leave Gila River Arena at the end of the current NHL season, the team would require a temporary home venue, or venues, before potentially moving into the new arena in Tempe, which it is yet to be awarded a contract for.
Last month, it was reported that the Coyotes could play home games at Chase Field, home of Major League Baseball outfit the Arizona Diamondbacks, but ASU’s planned new arena has now emerged as the leading contender to serve as the Coyotes’ temporary home.
ASU is based in Tempe and the university is currently building a new 5,000-seat arena, which is scheduled to open in the autumn. PHNX Sports, citing sources familiar with the situation, reported that the Coyotes are in advanced discussions with ASU over a three-year deal, with an option for a fourth, to play at the arena while work is carried out on the team’s new home.
With a capacity of 5,000, the new ASU arena will be significantly smaller than both Gila River Arena and the Coyotes’ planned arena in Tempe.
Morgan Olsen, chief financial officer at ASU, later confirmed that talks were ongoing, stating: “If an agreement for use of our multi-purpose arena is finalised, we would be glad to help the Coyotes by providing a temporary home while their new arena is built just a couple of miles away.
“Our new multi-purpose arena also would benefit from the addition of NHL-level enhancements paid for by the Coyotes that would remain with our building. We are beyond excited to open this wonderful new ASU arena. This agreement would just make it even more special.”
In a letter to PHNX Sports, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said that the league would be accommodating in transitioning the Coyotes’ move to a new arena.