So it turns out announcing an arena partnership without telling your proposed partner about it isn’t actually the best idea in the world, as Arizona State University has pulled out of a plan for an Arizona Coyotes arena in Tempe, effectively killing it:
Arizona State University said in an email Friday evening that the university “has no intention of proceeding to sign a development agreement or an option to lease or any other agreement with the Coyotes.”
ASU was negotiating with the Coyotes owners up until now, but bailed after a bill to create a “community engagement district” — i.e., an area where half of all sales taxes collected by the state would be kicked back to pay off $200 million in arena construction, i.e, a sales tax increment financing district, i.e., a STIF — hit opposition in the state legislature. As well it should, since the vast majority of sales taxes on arena spending would be collected elsewhere in the state anyway if Arizonans spent their money on other things, so it’s not really “new revenue.” But as KPNX notes, there were political obstacles to the deal as well:
The Coyotes’ Glendale arena is in the conservative West Valley. The ASU site’s in Democratic Tempe. There was no plausible scenario in which Republicans ship a team to the East Valley and stick their Glendale voters with an empty arena, $150 million mortgage and no way to pay it off.
Coyotes owner Anthony LeBlanc can, and no doubt will, pursue other arena sites now, like maybe that Salt River Indian reservation land in Scottsdale that he rejected last summer. He still doesn’t have any money to build it with, though — other than his own money, which would defeat the purpose of leaving Glendale so he can get somebody else to gift him an arena — so this is likely to take a while. This being the Coyotes, taking a while is something they should be familiar with.