Tempe Steps Into Proposed Hockey Arena and Entertainment District

Dozens upon dozens of people turned out June 2 to offer public comment at a Tempe City Council meeting where the council voted on a proposal for a hockey arena and entertainment district. (Katelyn Reinhart/Community Impact Journal)

The Tempe City Council voted June 2 to advance negotiations with proponents of a $1.7 billion professional sports entertainment development on city land.

The vote was split 5-2, with Mayor Corey Woods, Vice Mayor Randy Keating and council members Jennifer Adams, Robin Arredondo-Savage and Joel Navarro voting yes and council members Lauren Kuby and Doreen Garlid voting no.

The negotiation process should last several months. If negotiations are successful, a development agreement will be drafted and there will be a “robust process of public participation in public meetings before a city council vote,” according to the city.

Tempe issued a Request for Proposals for a Professional Sports Entertainment District on July 22, 2021. A proposal, by The Meruelo Group and the Arizona Coyotes through their subsidiary, Bluebird Development, LLC., has been received. on September 2, 2021. Since According to the City, City staff members have analyzed the proposal with the assistance of athletic, legal and financial consultants as part of its intensive due diligence process.

The submitted proposal is to build a professional hockey arena, hotels, offices, retail and residential on 46 acres of municipal land will move to a formal negotiation phase. This will include cost exploration for infrastructure needs, tax abatements, traffic analysis, security and more, as well as working with Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and the Federal Aviation Administration, according to the town.

The June 2 meeting featured over 250 public comments split between in-person and virtual participation.

The Entertainment District would potentially be located at Priest Drive and Rio Salado Parkway.

Spokespeople for the project said the development, if approved, could bring about $13.1 billion in new spending to Tempe and 6,900 jobs on offer with 165 square feet of the project dedicated to retail stores and businesses. restaurants, according to the current proposal.

During public comment hours, the city council heard from residents and various others regarding the proposal.

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and development supporters in particular have clashed over an existing intergovernmental agreement between Tempe and Phoenix. The agreement focuses on reducing aircraft noise for city residents and was signed years ago.

Airport officials claimed that the residential space proposed by the development would violate this agreement due to the land’s proximity to the airport.

Development officials told the meeting that airport officials have not applied their concerns consistently, citing other property developments that have been approved near the airport.

Representatives from both sides agreed that they had several meetings with each other and clashed over the inclusion of residential spaces in the development.

Phoenix resident and Olympic hockey medalist Lyndsey Fry spoke out in favor of the development. She said the arrival of the Coyotes in Arizona was the catalyst that ultimately pushed her to pursue the sport professionally. When she was growing up, she said Arizona lacked the community to thrive as a female hockey player.

“Everything good in my life has come from this sport…and I want to pass that experience on to others,” she said.

Journalist Katelyn Reinhart contributed to this report.