Coyotes could be locked out of arena for unpaid bills

The Arizona Coyotes could be locked out of their arena later this month if bills aren’t paid, Katie Strang of The Athletic reports.

Strang reports the City of Glendale is owed about $250,000 in unpaid city taxes for use of Gila River Arena.

Strang writes the Arizona Department of Revenue filed a tax lien notice against the company that owns the Coyotes for more than $1.3 million earlier this month.

According to Strang, if the debt is not settled by Dec. 20, the City of Glendale has told the arena managers to deny team employees access to the arena.

The Coyotes’ first game following the deadline is on Dec. 23 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The NHL and Coyotes did not immediately respond for comment in requests by Sportsnet.

The Coyotes had been leasing Gila River Arena on an annual basis since the Glendale City Council voted to opt out of a multimillion-dollar long-term deal in 2016. Glendale announced recently that it will not renew its agreement with the franchise beyond the 2021-22 season.

The Coyotes have played at Gila River Arena since moving from America West Arena, which they shared with the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, in downtown Phoenix in 2003.

In September, the Coyotes proposed a $1.7 billion development in Tempe, a city just east of Phoenix, that included a hockey arena, restaurants, shops and apartments on a 46-acre tract of land near the city’s downtown.

The team said the arena would be funded by private investors, but would seek city sales tax revenues to help pay for $200 million in additional costs, including infrastructure work.

The city of Tempe said the evaluation process would take several months and will include extensive examinations, with opportunities for community feedback.

Last week, the Coyotes issued a statement denying a report which said the team was up for sale and could be relocated to Houston.

“This is false,” the statement read. “Totally false. We’re not selling. We’re not moving. The Coyotes are 100 per cent committed to playing in Arizona.”

A legal analyst for Forbes, Eric Macramalla, had reported that the team was for sale with the intention of an eventual relocation to Houston, citing an anonymous banking source.

According to ESPN, the Coyotes are 30th in the 32-team league in average attendance this year at 12,205 fans per game. In a list released Wednesday, Forbes valued the Coyotes as the least valuable NHL franchise at an estimated $400-million.

With files from the Associated Press

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