Tempe residents are finishing their vote on whether to build an arena-village.
Is there a Plan B or Plan C or Plan D for the National Hockey League should Tempe, Arizona voters turn down a chance to build a hockey arena-village in town? National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman has been lobbying for the Arizona ownership in its bid to win the referendum that would allow the group the right to build the arena-village on what is now a toxic dump. The NHL has operated in the Phoenix metropolitan area since 1996 when the owners of the Winnipeg Jets sold the franchise to a group that moved the team into an absolutely terrible city of Phoenix-owned arena that was built for basketball and offered obstructed seats for hockey and other events. The team owners hoped to build an arena in Scottsdale and another set of owners eventually moved to Glendale in 2003. The franchise has gone through numerous owners and one would be owner, Jim Balsillie, wanted to move the team to Hamilton, Ontario but the league ended that threat quickly. Balsillie sued but a judge ruled the NHL had a right to choose its markets.
Glendale elected officials virtually kicked the franchise out of its arena in 2022 while Arizona franchise owners were working out a deal with Tempe officials to build an arena-village. The agreement was submitted to a vote that ends on May 16th. So, the NHL will know very quickly if Tempe will be the team’s new home or if the franchise has to go elsewhere. Arizona ownership has two more years on its deal to use the University of Arizona’s 5,000-seat rink in Tempe. If there is a no vote what happens? Will Phoenix, which was trying to derail the Tempe deal, make the NHL an offer? Will the team go elsewhere to Kansas City, Houston, Salt Lake City or Québec City? That answer may come very soon.
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