The Arizona Coyotes of the National Hockey League could potentially be without access to their home arena later this month if delinquent taxes and back rent aren’t paid, according to a letter sent to team ownership from Glendale city manager Kevin Phelps.
The Athletic was the first to report this development. Since 2003, the Coyotes have played at Gila River Arena in Glendale, just northwest of Phoenix.
The Arizona Department of Revenue has filed a Notice of State Tax Lien for unpaid taxes owed by IceArizona Hockey Company, LLC, which owns the Coyotes, according to a letter dated Wednesday from Phelps to Coyotes president and CEO Xavier Gutierrez.
The lien amount is in excess of $1.3 million, the letter says, of which approximately $250,000 is owed to the city of Glendale. Additionally, Phelps said he received notice from ASM Global, the arena manager, that there is an unpaid balance for the 2020-2021 season.
If the taxes and back rent aren’t paid in full by 5 p.m. on December 20, the Coyotes will not have access to the arena, the letter says. The city also is canceling the company’s business license and says the business can request an informal hearing by submitting a written request within 10 days.
In a statement issued Wednesday, the Coyotes pledged to pay the outstanding bills.
“We have already launched an investigation to determine how this could have happened and the initial indications are that it appears to be the result of an unfortunate human error,” the statement said.
“Regardless, we deeply regret the inconvenience this has caused. We will make sure by tomorrow morning, the Arizona Coyotes are current on all of our bills and owe no state or local taxes whatsoever. And we will take immediate steps to ensure nothing like this can ever possibly happen again.”
On August 19, the city announced in a press release it would not renew the operating agreement for the Coyotes beyond the 2021-2022 NHL season.
Gutierrez, in a statement that same day, said, “We are disappointed by today’s unilateral decision by the City of Glendale to break off negotiations on a multi-year lease extension agreement. We are hopeful that they will reconsider a move that would primarily damage the small businesses and hard-working citizens of Glendale. We remain open to restarting good-faith negotiations with the City.
“Most importantly, the Coyotes are one hundred percent committed to finding a long-term arena solution here in Arizona, and nothing will shake our determination to do what is right for our organization, residents of the entire Valley and, most important, our fans.”