The Arizona Coyotes need a new home after the 2021-22 season. That’s clear after the City of Glendale announced that it will not renew its operating agreement with the Coyotes in an official Twitter thread.
Update: Both the Coyotes and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman wonder if there’s still room to work out an arena solution with Glendale. Read all about that in this post.
The City of Glendale stated that it aims for an “increased focus on larger, more impactful events and uses of the city-owned arena.”
Glendale City Manager Kevin Phelps expanded on the Coyotes arena decision with this statement:
Statement from Glendale City Manager Kevin Phelps: pic.twitter.com/PkqvKJqfUX
— City of Glendale, AZ (@GlendaleAZ) August 19, 2021
Shortly before the City of Glendale made their Coyotes arena decision official, The Athletic’s Katie Strang broke the news (sub required).
Coyotes’ future, Arizona arena options unclear post-Glendale
Strang provides additional details about the situation, including money the Coyotes reportedly owed the City of Glendale.
According to a July 29 letter sent on behalf of Phelps to Chuck Steedman, executive vice president of strategy and development of ASM Global, and Dale Adams, the general manager of Gila River Arena, titled: “Re: Coyotes past due,” Phelps informed Steedman and Adams that the Coyotes owed $1,462,792 to the arena as of July 17. In the letter, obtained via a public-records request filed earlier this month, Phelps said that more than $300,000 of that amount is “over four months delinquent,” The letter also communicated previous late payments and forgiven debts from the prior season.
No doubt, this casts some doubt over the Coyotes’ future in the Phoenix/Arizona area.
That said, it’s also fair to note that, while the City of Glendale opted out of the arena lease agreement, the Coyotes displayed a history of having interest in moving away from Glendale.
If you had told me the city would be the ones to opt out I wouldn't have believed you https://t.co/0OXlMKLqb1
— Five For Howling (@Five4Howling) August 19, 2021
There have been flirtations with games at other venues, including those connected to Arizona State University. Talks died down regarding a possible arena in Tempe, but have also bubbled up again.
Arizona Coyotes are expected to submit a proposal for a Tempe arena, but city delays bid deadline https://t.co/0lI6JgPr7v
— azcentral (@azcentral) August 19, 2021
During this offseason, the Coyotes focused primarily on cutting costs. They traded away the likes of Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland. In several trades, they took on the last years of problem contracts for the likes of Loui Eriksson, Shayne Gostisbehere, Jay Beagle, and Antoine Roussel. By doing so, the Coyotes loaded up on future draft picks.
For a rebuilding team, it’s honestly not the worst strategy, at least in a vacuum.
Such strategies don’t exactly quiet rumors about Coyotes’ money troubles, however. Along with accusations of a toxic work environment, reports (including those of Strang) pointed to the Coyotes missing payments for signing bonuses.
Could a move to a different arena somewhere else in Arizona promote more stability? After more than a decade of people imagining the Coyotes relocating (perhaps to Quebec City, Houston, or another city), could it actually happen?
If history teaches us anything, it’s that we will need to wait for answers regarding the Coyotes’ arena-related future. It’s long felt like “The Song that Never Ends.” Maybe we’ll get firmer answers this time around, though?
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.