Sports

Glendale not renewing Coyotes' arena lease, leaving future in Arizona in doubt

The City of Glendale says it is not renewing its operating agreement with the Arizona Coyotes beyond the upcoming NHL season, leaving the team's future in the state in doubt.

City says it wants to focus on 'larger, more impactful events and uses' for the arena

The City of Glendale says it has informed the Arizona Coyotes that this season will be the last at the city-owned Gila River Arena. The arena has been the home of the Coyotes since its opening in 2003. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The City of Glendale says it is not renewing its operating agreement with the Arizona Coyotes beyond the upcoming NHL season, leaving the team's future in the state in doubt.

The city says it has informed the Coyotes that this season will be the last at the city-owned Gila River Arena. The city and the NHL team have been operating on a year-to-year arrangement since 2016.

In a release on social media, the city said it wants to focus on "larger, more impactful events and uses" for the arena.

'We are hopeful that they will reconsider'

"We are disappointed by today's unilateral decision by the City of Glendale to break off negotiations on a multi-year lease extension agreement," Coyotes President and CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez said in a statement. "We are hopeful that they will reconsider a move that would primarily damage the small businesses and hard-working citizens of Glendale. We remain open to restarting good-faith negotiations with the City.

"Most importantly, the Coyotes are one hundred per cent committed to finding a long-term arena solution here in Arizona, and nothing will shake our determination to do what is right for our organization, residents of the entire Valley and, most important, our fans."

The Coyotes have struggled to find footing in Arizona since the Winnipeg Jets moved to Phoenix in 1996.

An attempt to move the team to Hamilton in 2009, with Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie poised to purchase the team out of bankruptcy, was blocked by the NHL and resulted in the league taking control of the franchise.

The league was unable to find an owner for the team until 2013. Billionaire Alex Meruelo is the club's current majority owner after a succession of ownership situations.

Gila River Arena has been the home of the Coyotes since its opening in 2003. The club previously shared the America West Arena (now Footprint Center) with the NBA's Phoenix Suns.

With files from The Associated Press

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