Coyotes' Contract with City of Glendale for Arena Not Extended Past 2021-22 Season

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIAugust 19, 2021

The Gila River Arena, home of the Arizona Coyotes NHL hockey club, is closed as the Coyotes' scheduled game with the Vancouver Canucks was canceled Thursday, March 12, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. The NHL is following the NBA's lead and suspending its season amid the coronavirus outbreak, the league announced Thursday. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

The Arizona Coyotes must find a new home within a year.

Per Katie Strang of The Athletic, the City of Glendale has opted out of its year-to-year lease agreement with the team as of June 30, 2022, making the 2021-22 NHL season the final one for the Coyotes at Gila River Arena.

Strang provided more context regarding the current situation between the team and city:

"The current lease agreement operates on a year-to-year basis and can be terminated by either party via written notice on or before Dec. 31. The Coyotes also use administrative space within the arena, which the team must also vacate.
"The termination notice follows several months of stalled negotiations between the city and the team on the terms of a lease extension and potential renovations to the arena, as well as multiple notices about outstanding and delinquent balances owed by the Coyotes as part of their lease agreement, public records reveal."

The team issued a statement in response to the news, noting its "one hundred percent committed" to Arizona:

"We are disappointed by today's unilateral decision by the City of Glendale to break off negotiations on a multi-year lease extension agreement. We are hopeful that they will reconsider a move that would primarily damage the small businesses and hard-working citizens of Glendale. We remain open to restarting good-faith negotiations with the City.
"Most importantly, the Coyotes are one hundred percent committed to finding a long-term arena solution here in Arizona, and nothing will shake our determination to do what is right for our organization, residents of the entire Valley and, most important, our fans."

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman does not outwardly appear concerned about the Coyotes' future in the greater Phoenix area, however, per his comments on Carton & Roberts on WFAN Sports Radio (h/t Rob Taub of IslesBlog).

"I don't think the franchise is going anywhere," Bettman said. "I think the city is just negotiating. I'm not worried. I think their future stays in the Greater Phoenix area."

The first iteration of the Winnipeg Jets played in the WHA from 1972-79 and then the NHL from 1979-1996 before moving to Phoenix and becoming the Coyotes. They moved to their current Glendale home in 2003.

The Coyotes must now find a new arena, however, as its two-decade stop in its current home now nears an end.

Glendale City Manager Kevin Phelps spoke on the record with Strang and said: "We've reached that point of no return" and that β€œthere’s no wavering" on the matter.

Per Strang, Phelps "is responsible for the arena management contract between the team and ASM Global, the arena management company." He also said that City Council members showed a "strong consensus" towards that course of action.

In addition, the Coyotes reportedly owe the arena $1,462,792, with over $300,000 of that payment β€œover four months delinquent."


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