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Coyotes eyeing multiple arena sites within population, corporate, wealth, season-ticket core

Craig Morgan Avatar
June 19, 2023

The Arizona Coyotes are mulling several sites for a new arena, multiple sources have confirmed to PHNX Sports. 

All of those sites sit within the core of the Valley’s population base, wealth base and corporate bases. The sites also sit within the core of the team’s season-ticket holder base, the vast majority of which lives on the east side of the city (anywhere from two thirds to three quarters, depending on the level of tickets).

League sources and sources affiliated with the individual sites confirmed to PHNX Sports that the Coyotes are considering sites in Mesa, Phoenix, Scottsdale and on Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community land. 

While much press has been devoted to a potential arena on the site of the old Fiesta Mall, that site has never been one of the leading candidates. As previously reported, that site has been an option for the Coyotes since Xavier A. Gutierrez took over as president and CEO on June 8, 2020, but the team has never shown significant interest for a variety of reasons that include its location about 12 miles to the southeast of the proposed Tempe site that voters rejected.

There is a Mesa site along the Red Mountain Freeway (Loop 202) at Alma School Road that is under consideration. That site is about seven miles from the proposed Tempe site. It is privately owned (Johnson Stewart Materials LLC) and sits on a county island. 

Coyotes potential arena site.

There is also a 65-acre parcel of vacant land within the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community (one of multiple sites under consideration on Community land) that has a fully executed long-term lease. It sits west of the Loop 101 freeway, allowing for greater heights and density under community zoning rules. The lease also permits the construction of a large-event venue.

The site is directly south of the Pavilions Shopping Center and north of the Arizona Canal. It is bounded by Pima Road to the west.

Coyotes potential arena site.

Per a source affiliated with the community, there are current discussions between the master lease lessee (De Rito Partners Inc.) and the Coyotes. The community is currently granting exclusive negotiating rights with the team to the lessee. The team has promised that it will cover all development costs. 

The Coyotes cannot construct a sportsbook or residences on tribal land — two key revenue drivers of the proposed Tempe plan — but the team is still proceeding with discussions.

One of the advantages of a Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community site is that it would afford the quickest construction timeline because the land requires less preparation so shovels could go in the ground quickly. 

It is unclear which sites the team is considering in Phoenix and Scottsdale but it is instructive to remember that the team is looking to avoid another public vote, so privately owned land or county islands make more sense. Achieving tax abatements is a challenge that the team will have to navigate on county islands.

There has been some pressure from agents of existing Coyotes players to publicly unveil an arena plan quickly after the Tempe vote failed. The team may provide some information privately on that front, but there does not appear to be any timeline or pressure coming from the league to unveil that plan publicly before the NHL Draft later this month, or free agency, which begins on July 1. That said, the team would like to have a plan in place by the start of the 2023-24 season, which includes a preseason trip by the Coyotes to Melbourne, Australia in late September.

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