Coyotes Break Ground For New Arena

Archived from 2001-02 season.

NHL teams

After years of speculation and political bickering, the Phoenix Coyotes broke ground on their new arena.

"On behalf of the league, there's really no place else we'd rather be," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. "Arizona is great for sports, and it's a reflection on the league that we now have a home here."

The Coyotes currently have a very unfavorable lease at American West Arena in Phoenix. The arena also has only 12,000 seats with an unobstructed view of the ice surface so management has pressed to get going since focusing on the Glendale site a year ago.

The 17,500-seat building, estimated to cost $180 million, is expected to open in December 2003.

Bettman also praised Steve Ellman and Wayne Gretzky for providing stable ownership and building a playoff contender.

"Wayne Gretzky, you have no peer," Bettman said. "And you're an integral part in making all of this work. Frankly, I don't think it's too trite to say, particularly after Salt Lake City (where Gretzky's Team Canada won the Olympics), everything you touch turns to gold."

The arena was originally planned for Scottsdale, an east side suburb, with a January 2000 groundbreaking. But that was delayed while Ellman negotiated to buy the team, then abandoned because of dogged opposition from residents and some city officials.

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