NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told the Arizona Legislature on Tuesday that the Arizona Coyotes cannot be profitable at Gila River Arena and lobbied for the state to pass a partnership, known as Senate Bill 1149, that would help finance an arena for the Coyotes away from Glendale and closer to downtown Phoenix.
"The Coyotes' current location is not economically capable of supporting a successful NHL franchise," Bettman wrote in a letter to the Legislature. "For the past 15 years, a succession of ownership groups have tried everything imaginable to make the Glendale location financial sustainable. Our combined efforts have all yielded the same result -- a consistent economic loss.
"The simple truth: The Arizona Coyotes must have a new arena location to succeed. The Coyotes cannot and will not remain in Glendale."
The Coyotes (23-35-7) are in last place in the Pacific Division and have not made the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2012. They next play the Ottawa Senators at home against on Thursday (9 p.m. ET; FS-A, RDS2, TSN5, NHL.TV).
"I urge you to support SB 1149," Bettman wrote. "While representatives of the Coyotes last week met once again with the city of Glendale, nothing offered in that meeting changed the fact that Glendale will not work for the team or for the NHL."
Coyotes majority owner Andrew Barroway issued the following statement regarding the city of Glendale and the Coyotes' efforts to find a new arena:
"As Commissioner Bettman made clear in his letter to legislators, the Arizona Coyotes Hockey Club cannot survive in Glendale. The Glendale location is wrong -- both geographically and economically -- given its distance from much of the Coyotes' fan base and, in particular, premium ticketholders and corporate sponsors.
"Over the past 15 years, different ownership groups, including the National Hockey League itself, have worked arm in arm with the NHL office and officials to explore every possible option to make Glendale and its arena work as the Coyotes' home. The bottom line remains the same: the team's owners continue to lose tens of millions of dollars annually. Consistent losses of such magnitude are not sustainable -- not for an NHL franchise, or any other business.
"However, as the Commissioner detailed, there is a solution at hand. We continue to champion a public-private partnership which will secure the Coyotes' future in Arizona while creating thousands of jobs and generating millions of dollars in new tax revenues for the state's General Fund. These funds can and will be deployed in our community, and will directly benefit Arizona residents. These funds will also ensure the Coyotes' future in Arizona, and remove the uncertainty that has hovered over the franchise for many years. The Coyotes are simply seeking to split the tax revenues generated from the arena district equally with the state. This legislation will not require taxpayers to contribute a penny to this project out of existing state tax dollars.
"As a team, we continue to use all available resources to pursue this win-win solution. While we cannot and will not stay in Glendale, we will continue to push our proposed public-private partnership until we either achieve a long-term arena solution in a more economically viable location in the Valley, or we reach the point where there is simply no longer a path forward in Arizona. At that point, as the Commissioner indicated, we will work with our partners in the League office and across the NHL to determine our next steps."