The NHL wants a decision on a site soon.
It is the middle of summer and the National Hockey League season is still a couple months away but the business of the National Hockey League is year round and the Arizona Coyotes franchise ownership is checking out the Phoenix metropolitan area to see if it can come up with a site for an arena. In a perfect world, the Arizona ownership would be in the process of cleaning up a toxic dump in Tempe and breaking ground for a new arena in Tempe. It is not happening because Tempe voters said no to the arena-village concept that the ownership wanted. But there was a valuable lesson learned by not only the Arizona ownership, not only the National Hockey League and its other 31 owners but throughout the entire North American sports world. Don’t have a public vote on whether an arena or stadium plan that requires tax breaks or an infusion of public cash because it is going down.
“I think referendums have proven to be very difficult, not just for us,” Arizona CEO Xavier Gutierrez said. “You look at the backlash that certain other sports teams are having, it’s very clear that there is a narrative that this isn’t what really the public wants to approve via a vote. And so we’re looking at other options.” Gutierrez is not tipping his hand as to where the franchise might end up. Properties in Scottsdale, Phoenix, Mesa or on tribal land could be in the running. Gutierrez added, “we’re committed to still have a privately funded sports and entertainment district. We were disappointed with the vote in Tempe, but we turned the page very quickly. We reengaged with multiple sites that we had talked to beforehand, and we feel quite confident that one of these many sites that we put into play will come to fruition.” But that answer needs to come soon.
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