Four walls ‘don’t build a culture’: Coyotes react to report of move to ASU

Set to open in late 2022, Arizona State’s new arena will host university and community events and serve as the home for men’s hockey, wrestling and women’s gymnastics. A report has pegged it as a temporary home for the Arizona Coyotes. (Photo by Wesley Johnson/Cronkite News)

PHNX Sports is reporting that the Arizona Coyotes, whose contract with Gila River Arena ends at the end of this season, are in the advanced stages of discussions with Arizona State. (Rendering by SCI Architects)

GLENDALE – Discussions between the Arizona Coyotes and Arizona State about the Coyotes utilizing the brand-new multipurpose Arena in Tempe have intensified, PHNX Sports reported Thursday morning.

The City of Glendale announced on August 19 via Twitter that the 2021-2022 season would be the NHL club’s final season competing at Gila River Arena. The arena has hosted the Coyotes since the team moved from the Footprint Center, then known as America West Arena, in 2003.

ASU’s multipurpose arena is expected to hold 5,000 spectators, which would become the smallest venue in the NHL if a deal is reached. The Coyotes are 30th in the NHL in 2021-22 attendance, drawing 11,575 fans per game. Gila River Arena can hold up to 17,125 fans during hockey games.

The Coyotes would have to add their own dressing room, team areas and weight room to satisfy NCAA regulations that prohibit college athletes from sharing team areas with professional athletes, PHNX Sports reported. The additions would likely cost the organization $15 million to $20 million.

While unable to comment on the possibility of playing at ASU, Coyotes head coach André Tourigny suggested it’s not the brick-and-mortar structure that creates success but the composition and chemistry of the teams that play in it.

Arizona State has high expectations for its new facility, which will feature a variety of competition and events. (Rendering by SCI Architects)

“The four walls around you don’t build a culture, it’s the people in it,” Tourigny said in a news conference following Thursday’s practice. “What is important to me is the people I am with. What we are trying to build in terms of doing the right thing every day, that’s what I am for.”

If an agreement is reached, it would not be the first time a major professional sports organization called ASU’s athletic facilities home for multiple seasons. After relocating from St. Louis in 1988, the Arizona Cardinals played in Sun Devil Stadium until 2006 when they moved to State Farm Stadium in Glendale.

“If an agreement for use of our multipurpose arena is finalized, we would be glad to help the Coyotes by providing a temporary home while their new arena is built just a couple of miles away,” Morgan R. Olsen, Chief Financial Officer at ASU, said in a statement. “Our new multipurpose arena also would benefit from the addition of NHL-level enhancements paid for by the Coyotes that would remain with our building.

“We are beyond excited to open this wonderful new ASU arena. This agreement would just make it even more special.”

The Coyotes are reportedly looking to use the ASU facility for at least the next three years, which would cover the expected timetable for the construction of the club’s proposed $1.7 billion arena project on the northeast corner of Priest Drive and Rio Salado Parkway in Tempe.

In addition to a new arena, the proposal allows for the addition of hotels, apartments and shops, all to be funded privately. The Coyotes also requested $200 million of public funding for additional costs, according to AZCentral.

The proposal is still in the review process, which is the first of four steps toward ultimate approval of the proposal, a spokesperson for the City of Tempe said.

The Coyotes currently are in last place in the Western Conference in points. They return to Gila River Arena to begin a two-game homestand on Friday night against the Boston Bruins.

Alex Coil ah-lex coil
Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Alex Coil expects to graduate in May 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism. Coil, who is in Barrett, the Honors College, was the broadcasting and media relations manager for the Florence Y’alls baseball team in 2021. He is working for the Phoenix sports bureau.

Sports Visual Journalist, Phoenix

Wesley Johnson expects to graduate in May 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism. Johnson, who has interned as a digital editor and social media manager at Arizona PBS, is working for the Phoenix sports bureau.