City of Glendale, Gila River Arena will cut ties with Arizona Coyotes following 2021-22 NHL season
The city of Glendale, Ariz. will not renew its operating agreement with the Arizona Coyotes past the 2021-22 NHL season, effectively ending the team’s 18-year run in the city and Gila River Arena.
The announcement was made via Twitter on Thursday afternoon by the city of Glendale.
“With an increased focus on larger, more impactful events and uses of the city-owned arena, the city of Glendale has chosen to not renew the operating agreement for the Arizona Coyotes beyond the coming 2021-22 season,” the city’s official Twitter account wrote.
The city wrote that it has informed the Coyotes, who they’ve operated a year-to-year agreement with for years, of its plans to sever ties.
In an additional Twitter post, Glendale wrote it has had the right to decline a renewal of the agreement every year, as long as the decision is made prior to Dec. 31.
“We are thankful to the NHL and Arizona Coyotes for being a part of the Glendale community for the past 18 years,” Glendale city manager Kevin Phelps said in a statement. “The decision to not renew the operating agreement with the Coyotes was not made overnight or in a vacuum. We carefully weighed input from key stakeholders, our expert economist, our arena management firm and our city council.”
The Coyotes haven’t finished top-three in their division since winning the Pacific in 2011-12. They reached the Conference Finals that year but have made the playoffs only once (the 2019-20 season) since.
Last season, the Coyotes finished 24-26-6 before firing coach Rick Tocchet. Andre Tourigny, a former head coach in the OHL, signed a three-year deal to replace Tocchet on July 1.
The final two years on Tourigny’s deal will now be spent outside the city he signed on the dotted line to coach in.
Glendale’s decision to move on from the Coyotes looks to be more financially motivated than competitively motivated, however.
The city hired Applied Economics, an economic consulting firm, to determine the spending-habit differences between hockey-game attendees and concertgoers. According to USA Today, the firm’s report found hockey-game attendees mostly spend inside the arena while concertgoers spend more for retail and dining at Westgate, Glendale’s entertainment district.
Each Coyotes home game drove $12,000 in sales and bed taxes to Westgate, according to the report, compared to $25,000 for concerts. Additionally, concertgoers spend an average of $58 at Westgate, more than double the $28 hockey-game attendees spend.
Still, Glendale hoped to keep its relationship with the Coyotes intact. Phelps reportedly contacted the team earlier this year to negotiate a longer lease, but the team declined. Thursday’s news signals he has officially moved on.
“Over the next year, the City will be announcing many new projects that will generate incredible new excitement for residents, visitors and stakeholders,” Phelps said. “As amazing as the Sports and Entertainment District is today, the next several years will be even more transformative as this momentum continues.”
The most likely destination for the Coyotes is Tempe, Arizona. Tempe and the Coyotes — who are owned by billionaire Alex Meruelo — have reportedly talked about a potential relocation proposal since July.