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Discussions between the Arizona Coyotes and Arizona State about the Coyotes utilizing the brand-new multipurpose Arena in Tempe have intensified, PHNX Sports reported Thursday morning.
The City of Glendale announced on August 19 via Twitter that the 2021-2022 season would be the NHL club’s final season competing at Gila River Arena. The arena has hosted the Coyotes since the team moved from Footprint Center, then known as America West Arena, in 2003.
ASU’s multipurpose arena is expected to hold 5,000 spectators, which would become the smallest venue in the NHL if a deal is reached. The Coyotes are currently 30th in the NHL in 2021-22 attendance, drawing 11,575 fans per game. Gila River Arena can hold up to 17,125 fans during hockey games.
The Coyotes would have to add their own dressing room, team areas, and weight room to satisfy NCAA regulations that prohibit college athletes from sharing team areas with professional athletes, PHNX Sports reported. The additions would likely cost the organization $15 million to $20 million.
While unable to comment on the possibility of playing at ASU, Coyotes head coach André Tourigny suggested it’s not the brick-and-mortar structure that creates success but the composition and chemistry of the teams that play in it.
“The four walls around you don’t build a culture, it’s the people in it,” Tourigny said in a news conference following Thursday’s practice. “What is important to me is the people I am with. What we are trying to build in terms of doing the right thing every day, that’s what I am for.”
If an agreement is reached, it would not be the first time a major professional sports organization called ASU’s athletic facilities home for multiple seasons. After relocating from St. Louis in 1988, the Arizona Cardinals played in Sun Devil Stadium until 2006 when they moved to State Farm Stadium in Glendale.
The Coyotes are reportedly looking to use the ASU facility for at least the next three years. The timetable reflects the club’s proposed $1.7 billion arena project on the northeast corner of Priest Drive and Rio Salado Parkway in Tempe to be completed.
In addition to a new arena, the proposal references the addition of hotels, apartments, and shops, all to be funded privately. The Coyotes also requested $200 million of public funding for additional costs, according to AZCentral.
The City of Tempe is still in the staff review process of the proposal, a city spokesperson said. The review process is the first of four steps toward ultimate approval of the proposal.
The team currently sits in last place in the Western Conference in points and returns to Gila River Arena to begin a 2-game homestand on Friday night against the Boston Bruins.
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