ASU backs out of deal to bring Coyotes to Tempe

TEMPE — Arizona State University has pulled out of a deal with the Arizona Coyotes to build a new arena in Tempe, leaving the NHL franchise’s future in limbo yet again.

The school announced Feb. 3 it has no intention of proceeding with a development agreement, an option to lease or any other agreement with the Coyotes.

The Coyotes announced in November plans to build a new arena with Arizona State near its campus, appearing to end a long process to find the team a permanent home.

The Coyotes were operated by the NHL for four seasons after the former owner took it into bankruptcy in 2009 and the City of Glendale re-negotiated a lease agreement Gila River Arena, where they have played since 2003.

Republican lawmakers from the east and west sides of metropolitan Phoenix are at odds over a proposal to fund a new arena for the Arizona Coyotes.

Sen. Bob Worsley’s legislation would allow the creation of a new “community engagement district” that would keep half its sales tax revenue to fund arena construction. Worsley said Monday he’s trying to keep the Coyotes in Arizona.

Rep. Anthony Kern of Glendale strongly opposes building a new arena with taxpayer funds that would compete with Gila River Arena.

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

The team and ASU had announced in November a plan to build a 19,000-seat arena to be shared by the university and the Coyotes and set a June deadline for finalizing a deal.

Worsley’s legislation, Senate Bill 1474, was designed to craft a financing system to help pay what would have been the university’s share of the $400 million arena. The Coyotes had said the team would pick up about half the cost.

“ASU is no longer a viable site,” The Mesa lawmaker said. “It will become an agnostic location, an agnostic site bill, to give the Coyotes a chance to find the right place. They have been talking to other people as well.”

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