The Arizona Coyotes moved closer to landing a new home when the Tempe, Ariz., city council approved the team's proposed plan for an arena and entertainment district.
The 7-0 approval now moves the proposal to Tempe voters in a special election in May to give final authorization of the plan.
The Coyotes maintain they will spend $2.1 billion in private funds to build the 46-acre project. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman attended the council meeting on Thursday, stating that taxpayer money won't be used.
Bettman said, according to AZFamily.com, "We're very respectful of the process. And we believe when people understand the merits of this project it will get widespread support."
The commissioner added, "If you go back over the last 25 years, our commitment to Arizona has never wavered, and hopefully, we can get to a place where a new arena here will be a reality. We know this is a great market, and they are great fans, and this is a place we want to be."
Following the council's vote, Coyotes president and CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez said in a statement, "This was a great night. The Arizona Coyotes and the Meruelo family (who own the team) are deeply thankful to the Tempe City Council for their unanimous support and cannot wait to move forward on this transformational development.
"The Tempe Entertainment District will be a huge win for this community, and we have no doubt that Tempe voters will agree. Our project will turn a landfill into a landmark -- and one that not only provides a wonderful home for the Coyotes but also serves as a vibrant town square for Tempe, generating thousands of sustainable jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue for the City.
"We look forward to sharing more information over the coming months. But, for now, we are grateful and excited."
The Coyotes played in Phoenix's America West Arena, now known as the Footprint Center, from 1996-2003, then played in Glendale (Ariz.) Arena, also known as Gila River Arena, from 2003 through last season. This season, they are holding their home games at Arizona State University's new 5,000-seat Mullett Arena, by far the smallest venue in the NHL.
--Field Level Media