GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The upcoming season will likely be the Arizona Coyotes’ final one at Gila River Arena.
The city of Glendale announced Thursday that it will not renew its agreement with the franchise beyond the 2021-22 season. The city tweeted it wants to focus on “larger, more impactful events and uses” for the arena.
“We are disappointed by today’s unilateral decision by the City of Glendale to break off negotiations on a multi-year lease extension agreement,” Coyotes President and CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez said in a statement. “We are hopeful that they will reconsider a move that would primarily damage the small businesses and hard-working citizens of Glendale. We remain open to restarting good-faith negotiations with the City.
“Most importantly, the Coyotes are one hundred percent committed to finding a long-term arena solution here in Arizona, and nothing will shake our determination to do what is right for our organization, residents of the entire Valley and, most importantly, our fans.”
The Coyotes have played at Gila River Arena since moving from America West Arena, which they shared with the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, in downtown Phoenix in 2003. The Coyotes have operated on an annual lease since 2016 after the Glendale City Council voted to opt out of a long-term agreement.
Arizona had a deal with Arizona State University to build a shared arena but the school backed out.
The Coyotes have been searching for new home since Glendale backed out of its lease agreement, possibly closer to the more populous suburbs east of Phoenix. New owner Alex Meruelo has said he plans to keep the franchise in Arizona.
The Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum — the Arizona State Fairgrounds arena that opened in 1965 and hosted the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and the WHA’s Phoenix Roadrunners and an assortment of minor-league hockey teams — is a possible interim destination. It seats 13,730 for hockey.