LETTER: Coyotes intend to leave Glendale ASAP

Posted at 5:44 PM, May 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-12 20:44:15-04

In a strongly-worded letter to Glendale's city manager, Arizona Coyotes co-owner, president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc made it clear that the team has no intention of remaining in Glendale any longer than necessary.

In a letter dated Thursday and obtained by ABC15, LeBlanc told Glendale City Manager Kevin Phelps that the team plans to relocate from Glendale's Gila River Arena "as soon as practicable."

Read the letter in its entirety here.

The Coyotes have made it clear on multiple occasions -- most recently last week -- that they are actively pursuing the creation of a new arena elsewhere in the Valley.

According to sources, possible options include a joint arena with ASU's NCAA hockey team in Tempe, a joint arena with the Phoenix Suns in downtown Phoenix, and an arena on the land of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community in Scottsdale.

The Coyotes' current arena lease with Glendale expires after the 2016-17 season. LeBlanc said he hopes to have a new arena deal in place before the June 24 NHL Entry Draft.

"Simply put, the Arizona Coyotes have every intention of leaving Glendale as soon as practicable," LeBlanc wrote to Phelps in response to a letter Phelps wrote to Phoenix City Manager Ed Zuercher on April 26.

"You suggest to Mr. Zuercher that the City of Glendale is 'engaged in the Coyotes situation' in a way that might leave the impression that there exists some ongoing dialogue meant to keep the team playing in Glendale for the long-term. As you know, there is no such dialogue."

LeBlanc also referred to the reworked arena lease between the Coyotes and Glendale last year -- a development that damaged the already tumultuous relationship between the two parties. In June, the Glendale City Council voted to cancel the Coyotes' existing 15-year arena lease. The two sides agreed on a revised two-year lease several weeks later.

"By unilaterally breaking a 15-year signed management agreement with the team -- a contract the Coyotes would have honored for the length of its term -- the Council effectively evicted us from our home," LeBlanc told Phelps. "While you claim that the Council has had a change of heart, we have not.

"As a business responsible for hundreds of employees, and a team that relies on the support of thousands of fans statewide, we simply cannot afford to do business with partners who do not keep their word, or honor their contracts."

Toward the end of the two-page letter, LeBlanc made reference to Glendale's new arena management contract with the Los Angeles-based AEG Facilities, which was approved by the Glendale City Council on April 26.

"I'm hard-pressed to understand how the economically disadvantageous contract recently approved by your City Council might conceivably help our team. Numbers rarely lie," he wrote.

"In sum, Kevin, a bad deal is a bad deal. Spinning it as a benevolent act meant to help our team is a rationalization so far-fetched it can't be allowed to stand."

ABC15 learned in February that Tempe and Scottsdale are the favorites for a new Coyotes arena, with Phoenix being a distant third option.

With a new arena likely taking at least three years to complete, the Coyotes would need a temporary place to play if they are to move out of Gila River Arena following the end of next season.