GLENDALE, AZ — The Arizona Coyotes' upcoming season at Gila River Arena may likely be the team's last as the city of Glendale said it has decided not to renew the team's operating agreement at the arena beyond the 2021-2022 season, ending a years-long saga -- at times, a sour one -- between the two.
In a news release, the city of Glendale said it had informed the National Hockey League (NHL) that it would not renew its agreement with the team, which was currently operating on a year-to-year basis.
"We are thankful to the NHL and the Arizona Coyotes for being part of the Glendale community for the past 18 years,” said Glendale City Manager Kevin Phelps in a statement. “The decision to not renew the operating agreement with the Coyotes was not made overnight or in a vacuum. We carefully weighed input from key stakeholders, our expert economist, our arena management firm and our City Council."
Whether the Arizona Coyotes would stay in Glendale has been a years-long storyline amid team ownership changes, negotiations, and ongoing discussions.
In 2016, the Coyotes and Arizona State University announced a joint venture to build an arena for the Coyotes and a smaller arena for its hockey team, which ultimately did not pan out.
Just last month, the city of Tempe put out a request for proposals to gauge potential interest in building a sports and entertainment district there, something that the Arizona Coyotes said they were "highly interested" in.
In a statement Thursday afternoon, Arizona Coyotes President Xavier A. Gutierrez said he was disappointed in the city's decision, but that the team was open to "good-faith negotiations" and "one hundred percent committed to finding a long-term arena solution here in Arizona."
"We are disappointed by today’s unilateral decision by the City of Glendale to break off negotiations on a multi-year lease extension agreement. We are hopeful that they will reconsider a move that would primarily damage the small businesses and hard-working citizens of Glendale," he said.
“Most importantly, the Coyotes are one hundred percent 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.”
In its statement, the city said it wanted to "focus on larger, more impactful events and uses of the city-owned arena" and that it would continue to develop its own sports and entertainment district.
In addition to the arena, that area is already home to Westgate Entertainment District, State Farm Stadium, Topgolf, and Desert Diamond West Valley Casino. State Farm Stadium is set to host Super Bowl LVII in 2023.
In the last year, Glendale has announced a few major development projects for the area.
Crystal Lagoons Island Resort is proposed to be a 46-acre entertainment hub with a 10-acre lagoon, restaurants, hotels, attractions, and Mattel Adventure Park, which will be home to a Hot Wheels roller coaster, indoor go-karts, and a Thomas & Friends indoor theme park.
PopStrike, a mini-golf course concept co-developed by Tiger Woods, also announced that it would open two courses at Westgate. Unlike typical mini-golf with windmills and whimsical obstacles, these courses feature traditional hazards, such as bunkers and rough.
Most recently, Glendale and the Arizona Cardinals partnered with Plaza Companies to develop 62-acres of land with office space, restaurants, stores, and homes east of the Crystal Lagoons development.
Editor's note: Updated to include comment from Arizona Coyotes.