Arizona Coyotes Future Uncertain After City of Glendale Declines to Extend Contract

The Arizona Coyotes will have only one more season at their home rink in Glendale, Arizona, after the city decided to not continue its yearly contract with the team. The Coyotes will play the 2021-22 season at Gila River Arena, the city stated Thursday afternoon.

"With an increased focus on larger, more impactful events and uses of the city-owned arena, the city of Glendale has chosen to not renew the operating agreement for the Arizona Coyotes beyond the coming 2021-22 season," the city stated in a press release.

Phoenix Coyotes Gila River Arena
Oliver Ekman-Larsson #23 of the Arizona Coyotes during the NHL game against the Los Angeles Kings at Gila River Arena on May 05, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The city owns the arena, and the contract for another season after the upcoming schedule would need to be signed by Dec. 31. Either party could decline extending the contract, which the city did. Glendale city manager Kevin Phelps tweeted that the city was thankful for the 18-year relationship with the team, but said the city is looking to further transform its sports and entertainment district.

"The decision to not renew the operating agreement with the Coyotes was not made overnight or in a vacuum," Phelps wrote. "We carefully weighed input from key stakeholders, our expert economist, our arena management firm and our City Council."

Statement from Glendale City Manager Kevin Phelps:

— City of Glendale, AZ (@GlendaleAZ) August 19, 2021

Glendale is already the home of the Arizona Cardinals, who play at State Farm Stadium. The city is also host to the annual Fiesta Bowl, which is one of college football's top games in the bowl season.

Glendale is a suburb of Phoenix. The Phoenix Suns of the NBA play their home games in the Footprint Center in Phoenix.

The Westgate Entertainment District in Glendale is a large area of town sprawling with bars, restaurants, live music, shops, a mall and entertainment for all all ages. The city thinks it can make it even better.

"Over the next year, the City will be announcing many new projects that will generate incredible excitement for resident, visitors and stakeholders," Phelps said. "As amazing as the Sports and Entertainment District is today, the next several years will be even more transformative as this momentum continues."

This leaves uncertainty for the Coyotes. Xavier A. Gutierrez, President and CEO of the Arizona Coyotes, issued a statement of "disappointment" on Thursday.

"We are disappointed by today's unilateral decision by the City of Glendale to break off negotiations on a multi-year lease extension agreement. We are hopeful that they will reconsider a move that would primarily damage the small businesses and hard-working citizens of Glendale. We remain open to restarting good-faith negotiations with the City," Gutierrez said.

"Most importantly, 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."

The city has been in talks about different development possibilities, including a 46-acre resort—Crystal Lagoons Island Resort, which would include a 10-acre lagoon, restaurants, a hotel and entertainment.

Westgate also plans to open two PopStrike courses, which are min-putt courses with traditional bunkers and rough, as opposed to windmills and plastic hazards. Tiger Woods is a co-founder of PopStrike.