Arizona Coyotes cleared to bid for tract of land in north Phoenix for new arena site

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PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Coyotes have the green light to bid on a tract of land in north Phoenix in their yearslong bid to build a new arena.

The Arizona State Land Department Board of Appeals unanimously approved the $68.5 million appraisal of the 95 acres on Thursday. The decision sets the stage for the Arizona State Land Department to sell the land at auction with a starting price of $68.5 million. The next step is to set an auction date, which must be publicly advertised for 10 weeks.

Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo looked at various potential arena sites around the Valley before zeroing in on the tract of land near Scottsdale.

“I think people are craving certainty,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said recently. “And we are, too, but this isn’t a 60-minute game where the light goes on and the game’s over. He’s (Meruelo) working on it. We still have some time.”

The Coyotes have been searching for a permanent home since their former owner took the franchise in bankruptcy in 2009. The team appeared to have stable footing at then-Gila River Arena, but the city of Glendale backed out of a multimillion-dollar lease agreement in 2015.

The Coyotes had leased Gila River Arena on a yearly basis before the city terminated the contract following the 2021-22 season. Arizona has played the past two seasons at Mullett Arena, a 5,000-seat facility that’s by far the NHL’s smallest and is shared with Arizona State University.