In desperate need of a home, the Arizona Coyotes are couch-surfing at ASU's new multipurpose arena, potentially complicating the lives of the people who already call the city of Tempe home.
When the the city of Glendale didn't extend the Coyotes' lease agreement, the team contacted ASU in hopes of playing its 2022, 2023 and 2024 NHL home games at the University's new multipurpose arena.
Construction for the arena, originally pitched as the new home for some ASU sports programs, began in December 2020 after ABOR approved the facility. According to an ASU press release, the University assumes there will be no financial risk to accommodating the Coyotes, but some students living in Tempe have concerns for the surrounding community.
ASU students and Tempe residents had already noticed more traffic and inflated housing rates since the start of the fall semester. For some, moving the Coyotes to Tempe raises concerns even more.
"I believe this will affect Tempe poorly due to a lot of sports traffic, which could frustrate some residents since there is already common traffic almost everyday," said Santiago Howard, a sophomore studying exploratory sciences.
For this new project, the Coyotes agreed to pay $19.7 million in advance to make improvements before the new season comes. Some of the improvements include coaches' rooms, equipment rooms and new technology. The total cost of ASU’s new multipurpose arena is $134 million and will be used for more than just ASU sports.
"I understand that a lot of people don't want the Coyotes to come here because it brings extra people into the city and more traffic, and that's a big problem," Raven Padilla, a junior studying urban planning. "Tempe just does not have the capacity to have more people come. I know that the Tempe streetcar and everything else to do with public transport can help a lot, but there will still be a parking issue."
The Coyotes and ASU are working together to finalize parking for game nights, Morgan Olsen, ASU executive vice president, treasurer and CFO, said in an ASU news release. As of now, the plan is to have premium parking for fans and use the University's parking facilities.
Although this is meant to be a temporary solution for the Coyotes and ASU, some students and residents are frustrated at the possible outcomes that will impact the community.
"There's so many factors that go into a sports complex that if you don't properly account for it, it's going to be a mess," Padilla said. "So it's all about making sure there's easy access to the arena."
ASU, however, is thrilled to welcome the NHL team. According to the news release, Olsen said that ASU looks forward to the arena's additional pro-level touches.
As for traffic, an ASU spokesperson said that the area of the multipurpose arena can get busy due to all of the events happening in nearby facilities as the year goes by.
"Coyote games are slated to start in the evening hours, around 7:30 or 8:00 p.m., offsetting the daily demand from student permit holders," Melinda Alonzo, director of Parking and Transit Services, said in an email. "All the north parking areas—Packard Drive structure, Lot 59 and possibly the new Novus garage—will be used to support these games, concerts and other athletic events at the new arena. Similar to ASU basketball games and other events in the area, game patrons will be charged a fee to park."
The NHL team is only expected to play a total of three seasons at ASU. However, Olsen said the duration of construction of the team's own future arena is uncertain. If construction takes longer than anticipated, Olsen asked ABOR to authorize one-year extensions.
Until then, ASU plans to finish all preparations for the Coyotes in December.
Andrea Ramirez is a part-time reporter at The State Press. She has previously worked for The State Press for Spring ‘23.