The Arizona Coyotes won't be locked out of Gila River Arena after all. Hours after the city of Glendale reportedly threatened to bar the Coyotes from their home venue for delinquent tax bills and unpaid arena charges, the team announced it settled its debts.
In a statement late Wednesday, the Coyotes cited "human error" as the reason why their state and city tax debt grew over $1.3 million.
"We have already launched an investigation to determine how this could have happened and the initial indications are that it appears to be the result of an unfortunate human error," the statement read, per ESPN. "Regardless, we deeply regret the inconvenience this has caused. We will make sure by tomorrow morning, the Arizona Coyotes are current on all of our bills and owe no state or local taxes whatsoever. And we will take immediate steps to ensure nothing like this can ever possibly happen again."
The Coyotes' debt settling comes after the Arizona Department of Revenue filed a tax lien notice against the company that owns the team, IceArizona Hockey LLC, last Friday, per The Athletic.
An awkward situation awaited the team if it didn't settle its debts. Glendale reportedly instructed ASM – Gila River Arena's management company – to lock all Coyotes employees and arena vendors out of the venue if the team didn't pay its outstanding tax bills and outstanding arena invoices from the 2020-21 season by Dec. 20 at 7 p.m. ET.
If the team didn't pay its debts by that deadline, it wouldn't have been able to complete the final 28 home games on its schedule.
But while the Coyotes will finish this season in Glendale, they'll find a new home ahead of the 2022-23 campaign. The team and city failed to renew their operating agreement in August after months-long negotiations over a potential lease extension and arena renovations.
The Coyotes could be headed to Tempe, as they proposed a $1.7 billion development in the city in September. Under the plan, which was first reported by the Arizona Republic, Tempe would get a new hockey arena, theater, hotels, apartments and shops.
Aviation officials have questioned the development's proximity to the airport, but the Coyotes claim the plan intends to follow aviation rules and wouldn't affect the operations at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
The Coyotes, a team that's made the playoffs only once since 2011-12, currently rank eighth in the Central Division at 5-18-2.