Coyotes, Gila River Reach Deal To Rename Arena

By Kristena Hansen
Published: Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - 4:48pm
Updated: Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - 5:01pm
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(Photo courtesy of Arena) Arena in Glendale could be getting a new name just in time for the new hockey season this fall.

The Arizona Coyotes and Gila River Casinos, the gaming arm of the Gila River Indian Community, announced Wednesday that they reached a new naming rights deal that would change the name of the arena to the Gila River Arena.

The new deal would be for nine years and end the existing naming rights contract with a couple years early. It would also make Gila River the first Tribal community in the nation with naming rights to a major professional sports venue, according to a statement.

Glendale City Council, which owns the stadium, will have the final say and is expected to vote on the deal at its Sept. 9 meeting.

Rich Nairn, a Coyotes spokesman, said he's confident the deal will be approved.

“The value of the deal is much more than the previous deal, (the city is) going to get a lot more money,” Nairn said.

That's because the city takes a chunk, about 20 percent under the current contract with, of naming-rights revenue paid to the Coyotes. But Nairn said the price of the new Gila River deal won't be disclosed until after council approval.

The existing contract began in 2006 and is worth about $30 million over 10 years.

The Coyotes had been looking for a new naming-rights partner since the team was taken over last summer by IceArizona LLC. The fact that Gila River landed the deal is also noteworthy because the tribe operates the only casino in the West Valley, Vee Quiva, and for several years it fought hard to stop the Tohono O’odham Nation from building a casino just up the street from the Coyotes arena.

But Glendale approved the casino on Tuesday and the Gila River deal was announced the next morning, which Nairn said was just a coincidence.

Tohono O'odham issued a statement late Wednesday afternoon, saying the naming rights deal shows the positive economic impact its newly-approved casino was already having on the area.

"Also, the West Valley Resort is already prompting additional economic investment in the West Valley, as evidenced by the Coyote’s announcement today, and reports of renewed interest in development projects in the surrounding area," the statement said.