Back in June, Arizona Coyotes owner Anthony LeBlanc met his self-imposed deadline to announce a new arena site by the time of the NHL draft by saying he had chosen a site, but he wasn’t going to tell anyone where it was just yet. Four months later, with LeBlanc’s mystery site still a mystery but the owner again promising more news “soon,” there’s new news, sort of, on one of his rumored favorite sites:
Private developers, in cooperation with the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community are exploring the idea of building a 20,000-seat multi-purpose event center south of the Scottsdale Pavilions and west of the 101 Freeway that they say could potentially house the Arizona Coyotes or Phoenix Suns, multiple sources told Arizona Sports this week.
One source termed the project “an examination, with nothing concrete set yet,” admitting that an anchor tenant like the Coyotes or Suns would help.
“At this point we are determining whether or not it can be paid off with debt financing,” the source said. “We’re looking at the feasibility of filling it up with event nights. Obviously, a permanent tenant would be helpful, but we have been examining the option even without a permanent tenant.”
In other words: There are people looking into building an arena in Scottsdale, but they haven’t figured out how to pay for it yet. That’s a long way from “soon” — the Arizona Sports source said no decision is expected for another few months — and a pretty big hurdle to clear, even if there’s a mixed-use “sports village” to go along with the arena. And while a source indicated that “we are not asking for any cash” from the public, there’s a long history of developers not counting things like tax breaks, free land, highway improvements, etc., as “cash,” so I wouldn’t necessarily take this person at their word, especially given that they wouldn’t even put their name on the record. (Which goes against the Society of Professional Journalists’ second rule for allowing sources anonymity, if Arizona Sports cares about such things as journalistic ethics.)
Reading between the lines here, it looks pretty certain that LeBlanc has had his eye on the Salt River land all along, but has been waiting out the developers deciding on whether they can actually afford to build a project there without subsidies, or failing that, how to ask for subsidies that don’t look like subsidies. This latest report, if true, would indicate that nothing is going to be decided along those lines until well into 2017, if then, which should make it fun to watch LeBlanc try to redefine the word “soon.”