The Arizona Coyotes got one step closer to getting a long-term home in Tempe on Tuesday night. The Tempe City Council unanimously approved the Coyotes' proposal for a new arena and entertainment district in the city.
The Coyotes have proposed a new 16,000-seat arena and an entertainment center that would include a 3,500-seat theater, up to 1,995 residential units, and two hotels. In total, the project is expected to cost $2.1 billion with around $1.9 billion coming from private funding.
If approved, the arena and entertainment district would go on city-owned property at the west end of Tempe Town Lake. The project has been named "Landfill to Landmark" because 1.5 million tons of trash will have to be removed from the site at a cost of $75 million.
The final step in the process of getting the project approved will be a voter referendum on May 16. If it passes that vote, the Coyotes will be able to move forward with building permanent home in Tempe.
The Coyotes are currently playing in Mullett Arena, a 5,000-seat arena that they share with the Arizona State hockey program. The Coyotes have invested just shy of $20 million in order to get that facility up to NHL standards, and they will play there for at least three seasons with an option for a fourth.
Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo said he hopes the team will be able to call this location home for at least several decades.
"We're committed to making a difference and helping the city. I have given so much and compromised so much, because it's the right thing to do," Meruelo said. "I would like nothing more than to stay here for 30 or 40 years."
Councilmember Doreen Garlid originally expressed hesitation about the project, but she has since come around due to the large chunk of private financing and the fact that the citizens of Tempe will get to express their feelings with the voter referendum.
"While I've still got some reservations about this being the best fit for our last large chunk of city-owned land, it makes sense for us to give the residents of Tempe the opportunity to weigh in with their vote," Garlid said.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has already expressed his support for the project and even said that the league would commit to bringing an All-Star Game or NHL Draft in Tempe.
"It's a private-funded project and the club's prepared to execute a 30-year, non-relocation agreement," Bettman said. "All the things that say this club wants to be here, and frankly, the NHL wants the club to be here."