It’s becoming increasingly clear that the Arizona Coyotes are a hockey team that nobody really wants.
The Yotes signed a 15-year lease to continue playing in Glendale in 2013, but that deal was voided by the city council just two years later, after the city determined that the arena deal was a rotten one for taxpayers. The Coyotes did sign another short-term lease in Glendale while looking for a new home, and now the team is hoping that it has found one in Tempe.
The Coyotes have entered into an exclusive negotiation agreement with Catellus Development Corporation, and have unveiled a $400 million arena proposal that would require taxpayers to pick up half of the costs. From the Arizona Republic:
The public’s contribution to development costs would come from a portion of sales taxes generated by the arena, a proposed luxury hotel and a mixed-use commercial development at the site. The team floated a similar idea for a special taxing district earlier this year, but lawmakers told the Coyotes to hold off until 2017.
The team still needs to have its plan approved by lawmakers at the state and city levels. Tempe mayor Mayor Mark Mitchell told the Arizona Republic that he hasn’t yet spoken to anyone about the city’s potential involvement in building an arena. Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton was a little more direct, saying, “Building a third professional arena in this market doesn’t make sense, especially when it would likely require new public dollars as a part of the deal.”
If the Coyotes were to successfully move to Tempe, it would become their third home in the last 20 years. The team moved from Winnipeg to Phoenix in 1996, where they played in an arena that was completely unfit for hockey (the floor was barely big enough to accommodate a regulation rink), and jumped to Glendale in 2003. The team declared bankruptcy in 2009, and had to be operated by the NHL for a few years while the league struggled to find a buyer. The team was eventually purchased by a new ownership group in 2013, which signed the 15-year lease with Glendale that would end up voided two years later.
It’s hard not to look at what’s happened to the Coyotes over the course of the last decade or so and see a team that has no business operating in Arizona, or perhaps even existing at all. And yet, they still have the gall to ask taxpayers for a handout.