Could Hockey Return To Downtown Phoenix? Council OKs Closer Look

Published: Monday, February 20, 2017 - 5:05am
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Lauren Loftus/KJZZ
Talking Stick Resort Arena in downtown Phoenix.

Phoenix city leaders have given the green light for a consultant to consider hockey at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The downtown venue, home to the Phoenix Suns basketball team, was actually the Arizona Coyotes' first stop when the team arrived in 1996. The Coyotes moved to Glendale in 2003. Now, one councilman wants to know what it would take to bring hockey back.

It was a short item, just a single paragraph, on last Wednesday's 330-page agenda. It called for the council to approve $75,000 for Barrett Sports Group LLC to evaluate the downtown arena.

There was no mention of hockey until Councilman Michael Nowakowski, who represents downtown, asked, “I was just wondering if there’s a possibility for them to actually look into if we had a hockey team what that would look like and what extra expenses would it take to have a hockey arena and a hockey team located there, if we remodeled the arena and brought it up to date.”  

City Manager Ed Zuercher said the contract was originally intended to asses the current condition of the arena for existing tenants, but the consultant could also asses its viability for hockey. Councilman Jim Waring didn’t like that idea.

“I don’t think we should be looking at this at all,” he said. “The hockey team has an arena on the west side. I think it’s throwing our sister city a little bit under the bus for us to be doing this and I just don’t think we should be spending $75,000 on this.” 

The Coyotes have been looking to leave Glendale since its City Council voided a management deal with the team.

Phoenix’s mayor has promoted the idea of building an arena that the Coyotes and Suns could share. Meanwhile, the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team is suing Maricopa County to break its lease at Chase Field in downtown Phoenix.