PHOENIX — Could Tempe eventually be home to a professional sports team?
It appears that the City of Tempe is looking to see if there is enough interest from someone, perhaps a developer, to build a bustling entertainment district -- and venue -- lucrative enough to attract a team to the area.
And, it turns out, the Arizona Coyotes, who currently play at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona, are interested.
First reported by the Arizona Republic Paulina Pineda on Thursday morning, citing sources, Tempe confirmed Thursday afternoon in a statement that it has put out a request for proposals, sometimes referred to as an "RFP," for "a project incorporating a professional sports franchise and entertainment district" on 46 acres of city-owned land near Priest Drive and Rio Salado Parkway, where the city's maintenance facilities currently are.
"Any professional sports franchise or entity partnered with the franchise can respond to the RFP; it is open to all qualified organizations, locally and nationally," Tempe said in a statement.
"Any eventual development agreement that results from any RFP must equate to the best deal possible for Tempe residents."
“Based on the site’s location, the Coyotes are highly interested in this development opportunity and will be responding to the City of Tempe’s request for proposal," the NHL team said in a statement. "Given our determination to remain in the Valley for many years to come, we are actively working to identify the best long-term home for the Coyotes, our devoted fans and this great community.”
All bids have to be submitted to the city by August 19, 2021, according to the city's website. From there, "the city will examine and evaluate all responsive proposals" to consider "projected economic impacts, job creation, public benefit, neighborhood impacts, traffic impacts and more."
It's unclear how long it could take to analyze those proposals once all are submitted or how eager the city is to make a deal.
The city added in its statement that it is up to the Tempe City Council to accept or reject any or all proposals. It's also possible that none of the proposals could be selected.
The Arizona Republic also reported that it would cost millions of dollars, potentially as high as $70 million, to clean up the land to address environmental concerns before construction of anything could even begin.
News that the Arizona Coyotes organization is considering or looking to leave Glendale has been reported on for years and the organization's relationship with the City of Glendale has been rocky at best.
According to the Republic, the team is currently in a year-to-year lease with Gila River Arena, where the team has been playing its home games since 2003.
"The City of Glendale has been working since last year with the Arizona Coyotes and our Arena Manager, ASM Global, to determine if terms for a long-term agreement can be reached to allow the Coyotes to continue to play in Gila River Arena. We remain committed to that goal," the City of Glendale said in a statement.
"The highly recognized successes of our growing Sports and Entertainment District provide fans and visitors an immersive experience. The City believes that Gila River Arena is the best location for the future success of the Coyotes."
The Arizona Coyotes also Thursday released their schedule for the upcoming 2021-2022 season. They will play a total of 82 games, split evenly between home and away games.
View our full schedule now: https://t.co/JqUuokxuJB— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) July 22, 2021
The team's first game will be October 14, against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Ohio. Their first game at home will be October 18 against the St. Louis Blues.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to include statements from Arizona Coyotes and City of Glendale.