the Arizona Coyotes (NHL) plan to temporarily play in a new ASU arena, with the team paying for NHL-Level Improvements to the 5,000-seat home of Sun Devils hockey.
The new ASU arena is slated to open this fall as the home of the NCAA team. It’s a small varsity arena – and, quite honestly, at 5,000 seats, it’s a bit small by NCAA standards – and not at all designed for the needs of an NHL team.
Although the Coyotes have not officially declared their intention to play here until a new Tempe arena opens, their facility plans have been made public in documents the ASU will present to the Board of Regents of state this week by the Republic of Arizona:
Proposal documents indicate that in December 2021, the Coyotes approached ASU to offer to play their 2022-23, 2023-24 and 2024-25 home games in the 5,000-seat multipurpose arena, the Coyotes’ lease. for Gila River Arena ending at the conclusion of this season. This would indicate that the Coyotes believe a new arena will be ready for use by the 2025-26 season, but the project has yet to be approved by the City of Tempe.
Also in the documents, the university asks the board to approve the construction of a two-story, 15,000-square-foot annex structure adjacent to the northeast edge of the arena. This annex will house NHL-quality home and away team locker rooms, practice areas, equipment rooms, nutrition stations, coaches’ workroom, team warehouse and fitness room. .
All costs for the annex building and required facility upgrades will be paid for by the Coyotes, the university said in its proposal. The annex building would remain after the completion of the proposed new arena for the Coyotes, whose land is not far from ASU, and will be reused by the university.
While there have been unofficial grumblings from NHL executives and owners about this arrangement, there is no official criticism from Gary Bettman. The opposite, according to Arizona Sports:
“There are a lot of hockey fans and the team has built a good fan base. And with the right arena, the situation, they’ll be great,” Bettman said. “And ultimately, if there’s going to be temporary accommodation…I think they can create a great experience for people in a more intimate setting. And it wouldn’t be the first time we’ve been in a smaller facility while we wait for a new arena to be built.
“It’s a good market. This has been a franchise that has had its challenges, some of which are beyond its control. As long as there is a commitment up and coming for a new building, it will be worth sticking with.
This plan only makes sense if the team’s Tempe plans come to fruition. We have described here, but basically the team is working with the city on a $1.7 billion mixed-use office/entertainment/housing development anchored by a new Coyotes arena. Opposition comes from Phoenix and Sky Harbor officials who say the development may impact airport operations, but that’s a bit of a red herring: FAA, not city officials determine potential impacts on airport operations. (Indeed, the FAA is notorious for rejecting sports venues due to airport impact; an early location at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas was rejected due to FAA concerns.) A local group opposes the project due to the potential impact on Tempe’s finances, but since the arena and development are privately funded, there is debate about this as well.although concerns about community benefits should certainly be addressed when we potentially see public debate on the proposal.
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