PHOENIX — The Arizona Coyotes will not be renewing talks to continue playing hockey at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona, based on a letter from one of the team’s owners to a city official sent Thursday.
While the team has long said it is exploring other Valley locations for its new home, Coyotes President and CEO Anthony LeBlanc slammed the door on the possibility of returning to Glendale in a letter to the city’s manager, Kevin Phelps.
“Simply put, the Arizona Coyotes have every intention of leaving Glendale as soon as practicable,” the letter read.
According to 12 News, Glendale and the city of Phoenix have been involved in a minor spat over the team’s future. Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said he would like to see the Coyotes join the Phoenix Suns and Mercury downtown.
LeBlanc said the main reason the team will leave the West Valley was the Glendale City Council’s decision to cancel the team’s arena lease with no warning.
“The council effectively evicted us from our home,” he wrote.
LeBlanc said the decision caused a problem and the team has decided to solve it by leaving.
“Our fans and business partners have demanded that of us,” he wrote. “So does common sense.”
LeBlanc argued that, for the team to survive, it needs stability. The ongoing issues with the council — whether or not it supports the team being in Glendale — do not lend themselves to keeping the team.
“For our business to continue to rely on the whims of a majority of seven elected council members would be irresponsible of me to the point of risking financial ruin and the alienation of our most important assets — Arizona Coyotes fans and our sponsors,” the letter read.
While Phelps hoped the hiring of AEG Facilities to manage Gila River Arena would convince the team to stay, LeBlanc wrote it did nothing but widen the rift between the team and city.
“I’m hard pressed to understand how the economically-disadvantageous contract recently approved by your city council might conceivably help our team,” the letter read.
LeBlanc went on to point out that the AEG contract will actually cost Glendale $1 million more annually than one it had in place with the team to manage the arena. LeBlanc also said the agreement with the team guarantees 41 events per year, while the deal with AEG includes none.
“A bad deal is a bad deal,” LeBlanc wrote. “Spinning it as a benevolent act meant to help our team is a rationalization so far-fetched it can’t be allowed to stand.”
However, as vitriolic as the letter was, LeBlanc closed with:
“I hope that, sometime in the future, you and the next Glendale City Council will come to a game as my guest. It would be my pleasure.”
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