Tempe, AZ Voters Reject Referendum To Build New Arena For Arizona Coyotes

Rendering: Tempe Entertainment District

Tempe, Arizona residents went to the polls on Tuesday to vote on the Tempe Entertainment District referendum, which included the right for the Arizona Coyotes to build a new arena within the proposed district. Unfortunately for the Coyotes and the NHL, Tempe voters resoundingly rejected the referendum, 57% to 43%.

“We are very disappointed Tempe voters did not approve Propositions 301, 302, and 303. As Tempe Mayor Corey Woods said, it was the best sports deal in Arizona history,” said Coyotes president & CEO Xavier A.Gutierrez Tuesday night.

“The Coyotes wish to thank everyone who supported our efforts and voted yes. So many community leaders stepped up and became our advocates and for that we are truly grateful. We also wish to thank the countless volunteers who worked so hard to try and make the Tempe Entertainment District a reality and the Tempe City Council for their support as well. While we wanted a different outcome, we remain grateful to all those who volunteered their time and talent. What is next for the franchise will be evaluated by our owners and the National Hockey League over the coming weeks,” added Gutierrez.

In a statement, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the league is “terribly disappointed by the public referenda regarding the Coyotes’ arena project in Tempe.”

The $2.1 billion project would have created a 16,000-seat arena, practice rink, 300,000 square feet of upscale retail, 1,600 apartments, two hotels and a theater.

The Coyotes played its first season at Arizona State’s 5,000-seat Mullett Arena, by far the NHL’s smallest arena. The Coyotes and ASU have a deal for the pro team to play two more years at the arena with an option for 2025-26.

The Coyotes have been searching for a permanent home since the city of Glendale pulled out of a multimillion-dollar lease at Gila River Arena. Arizona had been playing on an annual lease until Glendale said it would not be renewed for the 2022-23 season.

The Coyotes began play in the state in the 1996-97 season after relocating from Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The Coyotes have faced financial difficulties for decades, including a bankruptcy filing by former owners in 2009. After the NHL controlled the franchise for several years, hedge-fund manager Andrew Barroway purchased a controlling interest in 2014.

Billionaire Alex Meruelo purchased controlling interest in 2019 and became sole owner in 2023 when Barroway was banned indefinitely from the league after he was charged with felony strangulation and assault in Aspen, Colo.

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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12 Responses to Tempe, AZ Voters Reject Referendum To Build New Arena For Arizona Coyotes

  1. Sprak says:

    I’m so disappointed with this, the Tempe Entertainment District would’ve been great for the city. So many new jobs and homes would’ve been created. Hopefully they find a way to stay in Arizona. A lot of the current good hockey players are from there: Thompson, Matthews, Tkachuk. At least they’re there until 2025, which gives them time to think about another Arizona option. If they have to move, Salt Lake City seems like a great option.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Would love to see the NHL survive in the desert, but I’m beginning to wonder if Arizona resident give a damn.

    • hockeydruid says:

      I don’t think that they dont care about hockey I think they don’t want tax payer money going to fund a stadium and all the tax breaks the team will get.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Desert dwellers. SMH.

  4. Scottlew73 says:

    Thank god voters got this right! Living 2 hours from Edmonton & the “Ice District “ as it’s called,it’s refreshing to city get a clue.
    Edmonton basically GAVE a billionaire a new arena (& control of all events in said building!),with promises of developing a retail & commercial properties as well as residential development. We it’s been x amount of years & ALL development still hasn’t been completed!
    Yotes have been embarrassment since “relocation “,how many billions has NHL sunk into trying to make it work in this market & hasn’t gotten any further? Time to pee on the fire and call it a day! They did it in Atlanta bout time to do it again.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hockey absolutely sells in the desert. ASU hockey is a big draw, and has recently begun sending players to the NHL.

    The arena deal didn’t fail because of the airport. It failed because Tempe, and the whole “valley” (it’s a basin) is skyrocketing in price, and building more luxury housing just makes it worse. Also, framing a composting facility as a toxic waste dump was exceptionally dishonest of the team proposal, as they sought approval from the voters to “remediate” the site – which serves a community purpose.

    The votes are also justifiably distrustful after the bullshit with ASU and Shady Park. They don’t want to get promised the world only to lose out to wrongful overdevelopment and get priced out of their own community or lose the charm that makes Tempe such a great place to raise a family.

  6. hockeydruid says:

    I am so tired of seeing politicians cozy up to billionaire sports team owners and giving them stadiums and lots of tax breaks to try and keep a team in an area. Its about time that voters stand up and say no more. IF these selfish rich owners can afford to buy a sports team then let them fund their own stadium not hold cities hostage for a sports team and force taxpayer to choice between road work, fully funding the police and fire departments among other expenses or having a local sports team of any kind. Look what the Irsays did to Baltimore, packed up in the middle of the night because they thought they were not getting what they wanted. Snyder has held MD hostage several times by threatening to move to Virginia or back to DC. And the Lerners have done the same with the Nationals. Im glad that the fans said no to putting in tax dollars as part of the requirement in buying a franchise should be that the league requires the owner to be able to fully fund a new stadium or they cant buy the franchise. NO public money should go into building a private business.

  7. Prevent Defense says:

    With any luck, the Arizona franchise debacle will signal the beginning of the end of the Gory Bottmann NHL Dictatorship. Rarely mentioned in any press was the EGREGIOUS theft of the 1990s Winnipeg Jets original franchise, thrusting it into the desert southwest. The Arizona franchise was a money-loser from the word “go.” And in today’s Brave New World where Absurd is Normal, it’s 108 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade, let’s all go to an ice hockey game in June in Arizona!

    NHL is absurdly overexpanded. NHL franchises are denied to solid entrepreneurs, while sweetheart-deal handed over to Bottmann-preferred buddies. Will James Balsillie get a crack at the floundering AZ franchise? Not on your life, especially after he wanted to place a franchise in Hamilton, ON. Will Quebec City get some recognition? The Fleur de Lys forever an historical NHL artifact. Dale Hunter wore it with pride

    But back to Bottmann: Money, power, influence, cash … Woke, Leftwing, politically correct, elimination of all tradition and especially, Honor. That’s the Bottmann legacy. I’m delighted the Tempe folks told Big Big BIG Corporate where to st*ck it. “Arizona, take off your rainbow shades! Arizona, hey won’t you go my way!”

  8. Prevent Defense says:

    Lots of reaction to the Tempe-No vote this morning. Fan lobbying begun. Many suggest Houston for new NHL franchise. Quebec City folks too. Salt Lake City.

    FLA has had miserable fan turnout for many years. LOTS of empty seats at Panthers’ games. They do better attendance-wise in Playoffs. Unlike Tampa Bay with fanatic fan base.

    Hooray for Referendum! Working taxpayers in AZ have some say. My Communist east-coast state has no referendum. Billionaires and Big Government do and get anything they want. They steal elections if they can’t win them. Can we vote on the next NHL commissioner?

    • Anonymous says:

      FYI, the moneyed interests who want to eliminate direct ballot measures are overwhelmingly conservative. Not commie. Just so you know.

  9. Jon Sorensen says:

    Greetings folks! Just a quick note, if you haven’t done so already, please consider subscribing to NoVa Caps posts in the “subscribe” box located in the upper right corner. Thank you!

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