In search of new arena, Coyotes are in ‘very progressed talks with the city of Phoenix’

AP
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Just over a month ago, things were “moving pretty quickly” in the Arizona Coyotes’ search for a new home in the Phoenix area.

We can upgrade the status to “very progressed.”

“We’re in very progressed talks with the city of Phoenix and as well we forged a tight alliance with Arizona State University and we’re having discussions with them about the potential for a facility,” Coyotes co-owner and president Anthony Leblanc told NHL.com.

“We’re exploring those pretty aggressively.”

The Coyotes don’t have much time to dither. Their lease in Glendale expires after next season. Even if they can extend it a year or two, Gila River Arena doesn’t seem to be a long-term option anymore.

That may be a blessing in disguise.

“People tend to forget that when this team played in what was then America West Arena, the games were almost always sold out, there was an incredible vibe in the building,” Leblanc said.

In fact, people never did really forget that. There were myriad pessimists when the club announced it was moving to Glendale, a sleepy suburb with cheap land and expensive dreams. And the more the team struggled financially in its new home, the more those pessimists crowed.

Why else, according to Leblanc, has there been such a “strong voicing from our fanbase and from our sponsors that if we had an opportunity they’d really like to see us back in downtown Phoenix or in the east side of the Valley”?

It’s because the best place for the Coyotes has always been downtown. Or, if not there, the East Valley, which includes the ASU campus and also the city of Scottsdale, where wealthy tourists (including many Canadians) flock to during the hockey season.

The key now is getting a deal done.

And this time, make it the right deal.

Related: Coyotes hire consultant to ‘explore arena options in the Valley’