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Lawmaker urges Arizona Coyotes to stay in Phoenix’s West Valley

Arizona Coyotes goalie Mike Smith (41) celebrates a win against the Winnipeg Jets with defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23) after an NHL hockey game Friday, Jan. 13, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. The Coyotes defeated the Jets 4-3. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — A local lawmakers urged the Arizona Coyotes on Monday to continue to play hockey in the West Valley instead of opting to move.

State Rep. Anthony Kerns, whose district includes Gila River Arena — the Glendale home of the Coyotes — said the team is an integral part of the Westgate Entertainment District.

“The Westgate Entertainment District and Tanger Outlets combined provide nearly 2,500 jobs, a majority of which are filled by residents from cities throughout the Valley,” he said at a press conference.

Late last week, a prospective deal between the Coyotes and Arizona State University to build an arena in Tempe fell through after the school pulled out of the deal. A reason was not given.

Coyotes President Anthony LeBlanc issued a statement saying the team is focused on staying in metro Phoenix and “Glendale simply is no longer an option.”

State Sen. Bob Worsely has introduced a bill that would use additional taxpayer monies to fund the construction of a new home for the team. Kern said he would oppose it.

“This legislation comes down to a simply public-policy question,” he said. “Should taxpayers be asked to pay for a new arena that will directly compete with existing facilities that taxpayers are still paying off?”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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