On September 9th, the Glendale City Council will be brought to yet another Coyotes-related vote. The issue at hand this time? The name of the arena.
The Coyotes’ current arena, which was built in 2003 at the cost of around $220 million dollars, is no stranger to name changes. The venue, which was home to a now-defunct National Lacrosse League franchise in addition to the Desert Dogs, was named Glendale Arena at its conception. It was renamed Jobing.com Arena in 2007, when the online company signed a 10-year, $30-million dollar naming rights partnership with the arena and the team.
Now, it’s about to receive a third name- Gila River Arena. The name will be in honor of the Gila River Casino Group, which is run by the Arizona-native Gila River Indian Community.
The deal in question would partner the Coyotes, the arena, and the Gila River Casinos for nine years at a currently undisclosed cost to the casino group. According to the official statement released on the NHL team’s site, this would be the first federally recognized Tribal name agreement with a professional sports franchise.
When asked about the deal, Arizona Coyotes Co-Owner, President and CEO Anthony LeBlanc was nothing but positive and optimistic about the effect the deal would have on the team and the Glendale Community. In the NHL’s release, he was quoted as saying that the team couldn’t wait to partner with another organization that “prides themselves on their commitment to business excellence and to their community”
Agreements between sports franchises and casinos aren’t particularly common- but then again, the Coyotes have been pushing limits since they moved to Phoenix from Winnipeg back in the nineties. This partnership could be just the ticket to turning the team’s luck around; having a significant financial backer, especially one that has also been so heavily involved in negotiations with the city of Glendale and the state of Arizona as a whole, could really help the Coyotes push forward in the NHL.
This deal could do more than that, though. We asked you, as the Coyotes community, what sort of effect you thought the Glendale Arena controversy would have on the team’s ability to stay in Arizona. A large number of our respondents were certain that Mayor Weier’s bitterness towards the team would lose any support he has as a governing member of the Glendale community- this will be a good test as to what sort of power the mayor still has, particularly with Council re-elections coming up.