City of Glendale announces termination of Coyotes’ Gila River Arena lease

The Coyotes will need to find a new arena after the 2021/22 season


Adin Vilasevic

Pictured here in 2019, the Coyotes have played at Gila River Arena — 9400 West Maryland Avenue in Glendale — since the 2003/04 season.

The Arizona Coyotes are going to need a new home arena starting in 2022.

On Thursday, the city of Glendale announced in a statement that it is ending an operating agreement with the Coyotes which allowed the team to play at Gila River Arena. The Coyotes have played at the arena since 2003.

“We are thankful to the NHL and the Arizona Coyotes for being part of the Glendale community for the past 18 years,” Glendale City Manager Kevin Phelps said Thursday. “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.”

The statement stated that in the past three years, more than $1 billion has been invested into Glendale’s Sports and Entertainment District — an unprecedented amount, and a key point of leverage in the city’s negotiations with the Coyotes.

“Over the next year, the City will be announcing many new projects that will generate incredible excitement for residents, visitors and stakeholders,” Phelps said.

Glendale’s decision to move on from the Coyotes comes after years of fraught negotiations and tension regarding the team’s long-term future in Arizona. Most recently, owner Alex Meruelo has spearheaded an effort to move the Coyotes to the East Valley, but the prospects of a deal being struck on a new Tempe rink are far from certain.

Speculation has been rife that the Coyotes could relocate entirely to a destination like Houston after next season, but a team statement issued Thursday shut the door on that possibility for the time being.

“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,” president and CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez also expressed hope that the city of Glendale would reopen negotiations on a new lease.

“We are hopeful that (the city) will reconsider a move that would primarily damage the small businesses and hard-working citizens of Glendale,” Gutierrez said. “We remain open to restarting good-faith negotiations with the City.”