Coyotes cite possible human error in not paying debts to Glendale, promise quick resolution – The Arizona Republic

Coyotes cite possible human error in not paying debts to Glendale, promise quick resolution – The Arizona Republic
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Oct 23, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; New York Islanders and Arizona Coyotes face off during the first period at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Coyotes gave fans another reason for concern about the future of the team Wednesday night, but according to the team, it was a situation that could have been avoided.

The city of Glendale on Wednesday informed the Coyotes that it intended to lock the team out of Gila River Arena on Dec. 20, if all outstanding amounts the team owes the city and ASM Global, which manages the facility for the city, are not paid by then. 

In a letter from Glendale City Manager Kevin Phelps to Coyotes President and CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez, Phelps advised the Coyotes that the Arizona Department of Revenue has filed a Notice of State Tax Lien for unpaid taxes owed by IceArizona, the Coyotes’ ownership company. The amount owed, according to the letter, is $1.3 million, including $250,000 to the city. 

Phelps said in the letter that there is also an unpaid balance from the 2020-21 season due to ASM Global.

The city intended to cancel the business license for IceArizona, which the team was informed of via a separate letter. Phelps wrote that he instructed ASM Global to keep the Coyotes out of Gila River Arena if the taxes and back rent are not paid in full by 5 p.m. on Dec 20. 

The Coyotes did not immediately respond to the report, which first appeared in The Athletic. But late Wednesday night they issued a statement.

“We have already launched an investigation to determine how this could have happened and initial indications are that it appears to be the result of an unfortunate human error,” the Coyotes statement read. “Regardless, we deeply regret the inconvenience this has caused. We will make sure that by tomorrow (Thursday) morning, the Arizona Coyotes are current on all of our bills and owe no state or local taxed whatsoever. And we will take immediate steps to ensure that nothing like this can every possibly happen again.”

The original report said team employees would be denied access to the arena and the team’s offices within the arena as of the Dec. 20 deadline.

Phelps confirmed the situation to The Republic Wednesday evening before the Coyotes’ statement was sent out.

The history of the Coyotes in Arizona is filled with documented moments of instability and uncertainty about the team’s future.

In the most recent chapters, the team had to refute a social media post from a respected business media outlet reporting the Coyotes were up for sale again. But ownership quickly dismissed the report.

The Coyotes were informed in August that the city intended to end negotiations on a new lease agreement between the two parties after years of trying to find an arena deal that works for both. That signaled the end of the Coyotes’ time at the facility at the end of this season in 2022. 

The move came on the heels of the announcement of the team’s plans for an arena and entertainment district in Tempe. The team is still working out where it will play next season and in the immediate future, with the hope being that the arena proposal goes through and construction begins.

Phelps said in August that he was still “somewhat hopeful” for a deal after the Tempe announcement, but ultimately said the city plans to go in a different direction with booking events for the arena.

A city-commissioned report showed that events such as concerts at Gila River Arena bring in significantly more revenue for the city than Coyotes games. But the arena hosts far more hockey games than it does concerts and other events.

(Arizona Republic reporter Joshua Bowling contributed to this report).

Get in touch with Jose Romero at Jose.Romero@gannett.com. Find him on Twitter at @RomeroJoseM.