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Glendale reaches management deal for Gila River Arena, home of Arizona Coyotes

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX — The city of Glendale has reached a deal with a management group to run Gila River Arena and one official hopes it’s enough to keep the Arizona Coyotes.

The city announced the deal late Monday and the city council approved the deal with AEG Facilities, LLC in a Tuesday vote.

“AEG Facilities has an exceptional track record of managing arenas and understands the National Hockey League at a very high level,” Glendale City Manager Kevin Phelps said in a press release.

AEG operated the facility from 2006 to 2009.

The arena will play home to the Valley’s NHL franchise, the Arizona Coyotes, for at least one more year. Despite the team possibly looking to move out of Glendale, Phelps said he hopes the deal with AEG encourages them to stay.

“This new partnership with AEG provides the best set of resources and the expertise and economic vision to support the city’s commitment to keep the Coyotes in Glendale and in Arizona,” he said in the release.

AEG echoed Phelps’ desire to keep the team.

“We are looking forward to working with the Coyotes at Gila River Arena for this coming season and beyond,” Chuck Steedman with AEG said, adding that the arena “provides the perfect setting for NHL games.”

The Coyotes seemed more lukewarm to the announcement.

“We remain focused on securing a long-term solution in the Valley that is based upon a true partnership,” team president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc said in a statement.

In a separate statement released after the vote, LeBlanc added, “(Arizona Coyotes) look forward to working with (AEG), and will now await official notice from the City of their plans to transfer management of the arena.”

Assistant City Manager Tom Duensing said the deal benefits the city’s taxpayers.

“This is a financially-sound deal that results in Glendale paying a lower arena management fee than in previous years and creates a sustainable profit-sharing component between AEG Glendale and the city,” he said in the same release.

Craig Morgan reported the city will pay AEG $5.6 million annually to manage the facility. An additional $420,000 for naming rights and $500,000 for rent that used to go to the city will go to AEG under the deal.

Glendale and the Coyotes agreed to a two-year lease agreement in June after a protracted legal battle that began when the city cancelled its original 15-year, $225 million lease agreement with the team.

Glendale claimed the team had broken its agreement by hiring several former city employees.

At the time, LeBlanc told the Glendale City Council he did not intend to move the team, despite the short-term deal.

“We did not agree to a two-year deal so we could relocate later,” he said, adding the team is not positioning to a get a new arena.

However, the team is now exploring arena options and LeBlanc told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s Doug & Wolf in January that talks for a new home have turned, “relatively serious in the last couple of weeks.”

The deal with AEG would allow the arena manager to vacate the contract should the team relocate.

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