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Coyotes committed to area despite arena deal pullout

Team says it will explore options after Arizona State withdraws from project @NHLdotcom

The Arizona Coyotes are committed to staying in the area for the long term despite Arizona State University pulling out of a potential arena deal, president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc said Friday.

"While a new Coyotes arena built with ASU would have been a big winner for our fans, taxpayers, the university and our team, the Coyotes had and continue to have a number of options for a new arena. Unfortunately, it appears the ASU deal will not be moving forward," LeBlanc said. "Nevertheless, the Coyotes are committed to the Valley for the long term, and we will continue to explore other options that will ensure a successful future for the team and our fans. We're a determined bunch, on the ice and off the ice. We intend to do everything we can to keep NHL hockey here in Arizona."

In November, the Coyotes announced they were in plans with Catellus Development Corp., the master developer for the Arizona State University Athletic Facilities District, to work toward building a 16,000-seat arena with an attached 4,000-seat multisport facility in Tempe, Arizona.

The agreement between the Coyotes and the developer gave them until June 30 to create a budget, design and operational plan for the development.

But on Friday, Arizona State said in an email to The Arizona Republic that the school "has no intention of proceeding to sign a development agreement or an option to lease or any other agreement with the Coyotes."

The Coyotes have played in Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona, since December 2003. Prior to that, they played at America West Arena (now Talking Stick Resort Arena) in Phoenix after moving to Arizona from Winnipeg in 1996.

According to The Arizona Republic, the Coyotes' lease allows them to continue playing at Gila River Arena through the 2017-18 NHL season.

Earlier this week, legislation was introduced by state Sen. Bob Worsley that would have created a 28-acre community engagement district with ice rinks for the Coyotes and ASU's hockey teams, within the confines of ASU's Athletic Facilities District. But according to the newspaper, opposition to the plan was growing in the state legislature and a news conference is scheduled Monday with leaders who oppose the plan.

After the Arizona State announcement, Worsley said he will continue with his bill but will amend it so it's not tied to the Tempe area.

"There will be something to help the Coyotes," Worsley said. "And it will be a little more location-agnostic."

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