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Both sides of Tempe Entertainment District debate ahead of special vote

2022 ‘Tempe Entertainment District’ renderings.
Posted at 9:54 PM, Apr 18, 2023

TEMPE, AZ — The two sides of the proposed Tempe Entertainment District sat down for a virtual debate on Tuesday just one month before the special election will take place.

ABC15 spoke with voters on both sides who have made their case.

The matter at hand centers on Tempe, but could affect much of the Valley, as to where the Arizona Coyotes will be next.

The Arizona Republic hosted the debate, placing Tempe First and Tempe Wins next to each other to talk things out.

Members of the community along with other media were not allowed into the event but were able to email questions to the moderator.

ABC15 talked, before the virtual debate, with someone ‘in favor' of the new arena and someone ‘against’ the project.

May Tiwamangkala is against the ‘TED’, as it is called, which developers say would bring 330,000 square feet of office space, 2,100 residential units, and 315,000 square feet of retail including two hotels.

"A lot of it gentrifies the neighborhoods around it by pushing out working-class people and BIPOC communities,” said Tiwamangkala.

Onnie Shekerjian is in favor of the $2.1 billion proposal.

"My whole interest is in how it expands our tax base. It uses up a piece of property that [is] currently not even developable because of the landfill that sits there,” said Shekerjian.

Shekerjian admits she's not a fan of hockey, but is a former Tempe city councilor.

While both women don't agree on the arena, they agree the debate is a good thing for all those who live, play, and work in Tempe.

"Because this is going to impact their lives for the next 30 years and so on,” added Tiwamangkala.

"I think it is a good thing because, what happens is, people have the opportunity to hear about why people want to support people like me and why people are saying no,” added Shekerjian.

Voters will decide what happens in a special vote scheduled for May 16.

For more details from both independent studies related to the deal, read below: