Coyotes slam 'false accusations' as proposed Tempe entertainment district continues to draw controversy

The proposed Arizona Coyotes entertainment district continues to cause controversy among Tempe residents and the project's developer.

Most recently, all-volunteer resident group, Tempe 1st, was issued a cease and desist letter from the developer. They responded with a rally.

A $2 billion Tempe entertainment district near Rio Salado Parkway and Priest Drive will be home of the Arizona Coyotes if approved by voters, and will also have restaurants, shops, hotels and homes.

The idea of this development is not sitting well with some Tempe residents and members of Tempe 1st.

"There are so many reasons. It uses hundreds of millions of tax dollars that we feel are better spent on actual community needs. It also has really terrible water environmental impacts, and we have a lot that we need to work on in our city, that's what we want development and tax dollars going to," says Dawn Penich-Thacker, member of Tempe 1st and a Tempe resident.

Marie Provine, a 22-year Tempe resident, gives her take.

"We need to build something there. I'm not in favor of leaving it exactly the way it is. I'm in favor of a compatible development that would not involve lots of people moving in and creating a lot of congestion, but some sort of office complex," she said.

The group has been campaigning to vote "no" on Prop 301, 302 and 303, while also speaking about the developer Alex Meruelo.

"Voters have learned from his notorious history and the way he's already threatening people here in the city of Tempe," alleges a fifth-generation Tempe resident.

In return, Mureulo's lawyer sent letters to Tempe 1st to "stop spreading misinformation about a prominent Hispanic business leader."

"We got orders that we need for take down all our signs, we need to stop talking to neighbors, and that we even need to stop using private communications to talk about him," an opponent of the project claims.

However, the group says they're not going to be silenced because they believe this development won't benefit Tempe residents.

"The city estimates that the Coyotes' project alone will use a million gallons of water a day and that doesn't even include the outdoor ice-skating rink," says Lauren Kuby, Arizona State Global Futures Scientist and two term Tempe Council member.

"We are here to ensure that our city council and residents are looking at the bigger issues like traffic, gambling, flight pass, labor issues, allocation of funding to support the whole city, not just a few wealthy developers," says Tempe resident and Changing Hands Bookstore owner, Gayle Shanks.

The president and CEO of the Arizona Coyotes said in a statement "Tempe Wins wants an honest debate about the facts of this important project, including the many economic and environmental benefits Props 301, 302 and 303 will bring to our community. Unfortunately, our opponents continue to advance false accusations that have maligned a good family that has advanced the American Dream rather than speak to the merits of the project." ͏

Tempe voters will decide if they want this entertainment district or not in the May special election.