Here’s what’s next for proposed Coyotes arena in Tempe
The Tempe City Council on June 2 will consider whether a proposal to build a professional hockey arena for the Phoenix Coyotes, hotels, offices, retail and residential on city land should proceed to a formal negotiation phase. This proposal was submitted by the Meruelo Group and the Arizona Coyotes through their affiliate, Bluebird Development, LLC.
A yes decision means that the city and the developer can negotiate. This is not approval of the project itself. This decision would trigger a months-long process that will include community input and public meetings.
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A no decision means that the Council has officially declined the proposal of the developer. The Council could choose after this to issue a new call for proposals at this location.
City adheres to typical process
Months before the Council can decide whether to officially select the proposing organization to build an entertainment district at Priest Drive and Rio Salado Parkway, the Councilmembers must first decide if the city should formally negotiate with the proposer.
Tempe issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a professional sports entertainment district on July 22, 2021. One proposal, from Bluebird LLC, was received on Sept. 2, 2021. Since that time, city staff members have been analyzing the proposal with the assistance of sports, legal and financial consultants as part of its intensive due diligence process.
The city announced in an April statement that the Council directed city staff to seek clarification from the project proposer on a number of matters. Having followed Council’s direction, the city is at a point at which it is appropriate to seek the Council’s permission to negotiate if it is Council’s direction to do so. City Manager Andrew Ching said the process that will occur June 2 is common for any development proposal on city land.
“Final decisions on this developer’s ideas are not happening June 2. This is about whether the Council wants to talk more about the group’s ideas or not,” Ching said. “We wanted to provide ample notice to community members about this meeting so they can learn more and make plans to provide input if they choose.”
One example of a similar process has been the city’s RFP for the Hayden Flour Mill & Silos. On Feb. 10, the Council voted to negotiate with the proposer of a redevelopment project at the site. Negotiations are continuing and could result in a draft agreement for the Council’s future consideration. Selecting a developer to negotiate with is not the same as choosing a developer to do business with.
What if the Council chooses to enter negotiations?
If the City Councilmembers vote on June 2 to proceed with negotiations, that means they have officially accepted the original submittal of the developer and want to hear more. It does not mean that the project is moving forward. There would be a long road ahead before that would be decided on. Negotiations could take several months.
During negotiations, the parties would attempt to formulate a Development and Disposition Agreement (DDA), which is a highly detailed, legal document of financial terms, timelines, specifics about what would be built and more. It would include the financial terms, timelines, specifics about what would be built and more. A draft DDA would be brought before the Council in the future for a public formal vote.
A robust public input process would happen before the Council’s decision.
Finally, even with an approved DDA, the Council would still have several public meetings to decide on aspects like zoning approvals and General Plan amendments, as needed.
What if the Council declines to enter negotiations?
If the City Council votes against negotiations on June 2, that means it has officially passed on the proposal of the developer. It would make this specific proposal moot. The Council could choose at a later time to issue a new RFP seeking development at this location, or it could choose to do nothing for now.
If you participate: what to expect June 2
The format for the June 2 meeting will include a presentation from the development team to the Council; questions from City Councilmembers to the developer; input from community members and a vote on whether to proceed to negotiations. During the meeting, the City Council also could temporarily adjourn to a closed session allowed by state law in order to obtain legal guidance.
Community members can participate physically or virtually.
The meeting will begin at 2 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, 31 E. Fifth St. Doors will open at 1:30 p.m. Signs, banners and other similar visual items will not be permitted in the City Council Chambers. Face masks are strongly recommended for those attending in person. Anyone who would like to speak to the Council will need to fill out a comment card available in the room.
Residents can participate virtually by filling out a comment card to request to speak virtually and registering through Webex. The City Clerk’s Office accepts requests for virtual speaking until two hours before the meeting. Visit tempe.gov/CouncilMeetingInfo for details.
While emails to City Councilmembers or staff are read and appreciated, they are not part of the official Council meeting record.
Residents who do not have comments or questions can watch from home on Cox Channel 11 or by watching tempe.gov/tempe11. The city will announce the Council’s decision shortly after the meeting ends.
Releasable information continues to be maintained at tempe.gov/PriestRFP.