Arizona State bails on Coyotes arena, everything goes back to drawing board (yet again)

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.

16 comments on “Arizona State bails on Coyotes arena, everything goes back to drawing board (yet again)

  1. It may work out yet for the Coyotes. They should think about playing the Hartford Threat.

  2. Even though ASU pulled support, Sen. Bob Worsley, R-Mesa, who sponsored the legislation wants to change it and make it more “location-agnostic.”

    Representative Anthony Kern will be holding a press conference as the bill is still active but wants to kill it.

  3. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Leblanc and Robert Sarver of the Suns need to figure this out and share a downtown arena. I know that they couldn’t get a deal done before but LeBlanc just lost a ton of leverage and he needs to realize that his best bets are share a downtown arena or move out of state altogether.

    • I recall reading that Sarver was the one who did not want to share a new downtown Phoenix arena (alone with the revenue from it) with the Coyotes. I know it’s a no-brainer for the Coyotes, but has Sarver had a change of mind?

      • I doubt it. So far, until somebody proves otherwise, the history is there that Sarver will eventually get a new arena paid for primarily by the public while giving the lion’s share of the financial benefits to him and his team. Why would he share those benefits if he thinks they’re coming his way?

        • Plus we’re moving towards the trend in many cities of “basketball-centric” facilitis a la Barclays. The sightlines for basketball are better if it’s not designed for hockey. I’m sure that will be an excuse for some NBA teams with 20 year old buildings to start clamoring for new ones in a few years.

          • That’s a dubious argument. Basketball courts are smaller but that extra space on the sides is a nice spot for the high-dollar courtside seats so even with no hockey they would likely have the same layout and sightlines from the actual stands. The ends are the only place where you might be able to bring the seats in a bit closer but the ends aren’t the premier areas to watch a basketball game regardless.

  4. If there’s one thing that almost 15 years of the Coyotes in Glendale has proven, its that there is precious little appetite for NHL hockey in the Phoenix area.

    Not only is attendance very low by NHL standards, average ticket prices (while they have increased in the last few years) are still horrifically low in comparison with their peers – let alone the mid and top of pack clubs.

    Generally, when these issues get brought up defenders complain that it’s the location of the arena that is the problem. Perhaps that contributes to low attendance, but it has no effect at all on local market tv broadcast viewing… which has often failed to eclipse professional bowling tournament ratings and, in some years, lagged behind infomercials as well.

    The Coyotes are not a business, they are a subsidy play. The reason no-one will partner with them is that, unlike other NHL teams who can be paying tenants, they generate so little revenue in their local market that it would cost their prospective landlord millions each year just to have them share the arena.

    This is a franchise that once took in $16-18m in revenue sharing annually from the league, $15m/yr from their bogus arena management deal, and still lost $5-8m on operations.

    Would you partner with them on anything?

    • And it appears that this subsidy play is all played out. This team is going to move elsewhere and even US cities like Milwaukee and Cleveland are more viable than Phoenix. Heck, the soonest we get done with an arena deal, it will be between Las Vegas NHL and the Suns.

  5. Raw video: State lawmakers hold news conference on Coyotes’ relocation plans

  6. I am an Isiander fan in Arizona ( Mesa one City over from Tempe and two from Phoenix), and trust me no one in my office cares about the Coyotes or for that matter the Suns ( I went to a Lakers Game last year ( NO Kobe Bryant and I thought I was in the Staples Center)), or ASU sports. Why is this? Arizona is a State of transplants, which is why there are more Lions ( and of course Cowboys fans), then Cardinals fans. If the Coyotes left for Milwaukee, Seattle or even Quebec, and the Suns followed them, almost no one would even notice ( let alone care). That is why it is good luck for the Coyotes getting a New Arena in Arizona.

    • There are not more Lions fans than Cardinals fans in Phoenix. That’s ridiculous. There probably aren’t more Cowboys fans any more. The one team that has taken hold in Phoenix is the Cardinals, and, though it took a while, ironically, it happened when they moved from Tempe to Glendale.

  7. West Valley objects to potential Coyotes move

  8. Coyotes deny northwest arena tour claims

  9. Morning roundtable: New York Islanders, Arizona Coyotes need to move to new arenas — again