PHOENIX - Officials with the Arizona Coyotes say starting with the 2022 season, the team will play at a new multi-purpose arena in Tempe, thanks to an agreement the team has reached with Arizona State University.
In a statement released on Feb. 10, team officials say the team with play all their home games at the venue during the 2022-2023 season through the 2024-2025 NHL season, with an additional option for the 2025-2026 season. The deal was approved by the Arizona Board of Regents on Feb. 10.
The arena, according to team officials, is scheduled to be completed by fall 2022.
"We are thrilled that we have arranged to play our home games in Arizona State University's new multi-purpose arena starting next season," said Coyotes President & CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez, in the statement. "This will be an incredible, intimate and exciting fan experience in a state-of-the-art new arena in a fantastic location in the heart of Tempe."
As part of the move, Coyotes officials say they are moving their corporate offices to the East Valley in the second quarter of 2022.
Multi-purpose arena announced in 2020
According to a statement released by ASU in December 2020, the multi-purpose arena is located south of Rio Salado Parkway on the east side of Packard Drive, immediately north of an existing parking structure.
The venue, according to ASU officials, has 5,000 seats, and includes an adjacent community ice rink that will serve as a public venue for the university and community to host concerts, conferences, youth competitions, educational opportunities, and more.
"Knowing that we’re going to be celebrating with the Coyotes, at least as they temporarily make their home here, is quite humbling," said ASU Athletic Director Ray Anderson.
The deal reportedly came together quickly in a matter of weeks. The Coyotes needed a home, so they called ASU officials to see what would need to be added to the arena, which is already under construction.
"Coaches rooms, training facilities, all the things that are necessary for game day," said ASU's Chief Financial Officer, Morgan Olsen.
The additions is expected to cost $25 million.
"Grateful that the design accommodated, being able to, at least on a temporary basis, house NHL here, with a chance to, quite frankly, save professional hockey for the Valley," said Anderson.
Team was playing in Glendale for 18 years
Gila River Arena. (Photo Courtesy: City of Glendale)
The Coyotes are moving to Tempe, after officials with the City of Glendale announced in August 2021 that they will not renew its agreement with the hockey team beyond the 2021-2022 season, citing "an increased focus on larger, more impactful events" for the arena after the upcoming season ends. The team had been playing at Gila River Arena since moving from Footprint Center (then called America West Arena) in 2003.
At the time the non-renewal was announced, both the city and the Coyotes were a year-to-year agreement for a number of years. The Coyotes played their last home opener game at Gila River Arena on Oct. 18, 2021.
New home is small by NHL standards
The multi-purpoe arena seats about 5,000 people, which is small by NHL standards. Gutierrez, however, says moving to Tempe will give the team access to new fans.
"You think about the East Valley going further south, going further east," said Gutierrez. "It gives us an opportunity to really tap into that incredible growth."
The new home for the Coyotes might prove to be a temporary one. Prior to the announcement on Feb. 10, it was reported in late January that officials with the Coyotes were in ‘advanced talks’ with ASU officials to play at the multi-purpose arena. In September 2021, officials with the Coyotes introduced a $1.7 billion proposal to build an arena in Tempe.
According to the proposal, the arena would have been built on a tract of land near Rio Salado and Priest Drive. While the arena would be funded by private investors, the team would seek city sales tax revenues to help pay for $200 million in additional costs, including infrastructure work.
ASU officials says when the Coyotes eventually leave, the additions will help them attract hockey regional tournaments and much more.
"Whether it’s gymnastics or it’s wrestling or something else we haven’t even imagined yet, this just increases the potential for us to leverage that asset," said Olsen.
The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.
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