Early returns from Tuesday's special elections show that the majority of voters voted against this project.
The $2.3 billion project was able to proceed after the vote on three propositions that would have transformed 46 acres of commercially zoned city property into a mixed use project. The project is located on the northeast corner between Priest Drive and Rio Salado Parkway.
Proposition 301, 56% no, 44% yes; Proposition 302, 56% no, 44% yes; Proposition 303, 57% no, 43% yes. The results of the in-person votes have not yet been released.
As of early Tuesday evening, 29,153 votes had been cast in the special elections. This is a much higher number than the votes cast during the March election for the Tempe City Council.
Coyotes CEO Xavier Gutierrez released the following statement when the results of the voting were announced:
We are disappointed that Tempe voters rejected Propositions 302, 301 and 303. Tempe Mayor Corey Woods stated that it was the greatest sports deal in Arizona's history. The Coyotes would like to thank all those who supported us and voted yes. We are grateful to all the community leaders who stepped forward and became our supporters. The Tempe Entertainment District is a result of the hard work and dedication of countless volunteers. We would also like to thank the Tempe City Council and all the other people who helped make it a reality. We may have wanted a different result, but we are still grateful to those who donated their time and talents. Over the next few weeks, our owners and the National Hockey League will evaluate what is next for this franchise.
Tempe approved the project in November last year, but Coyotes decided that the voters would have the final say.
The 46 acres that were to be used for the Coyotes arena project are now being used as a landfill. The Coyotes' proposed arena was supposed to anchor the project. Other elements of the mixed use project included hotels, restaurants and offices.
Other entities including the City of Phoenix and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport resisted the project.
The Coyotes asked the Arizona Superior Court to intervene on April 5 in Phoenix's lawsuit against Tempe. The team filed a motion for dismissal of the suit against Tempe, claiming that it had violated state laws by interfering in an election.
The NHL commissioner has backed this deal
Worker Power is a local non-profit that has worked to mobilize those who are against the project to vote. They released a statement following the release of the preliminary results.
Since we began, our message was that voters are concerned about the growth of their city and whether or not it is done in a responsible manner. Brendan Walsh is the Executive Director of Worker Power. He said that they advocated transparency and greater opportunities for community involvement. The city rushed through the whole process. We decided to put the project before the voters, and give them the opportunity to have a meaningful say on an issue that they had just shown they were passionate about.
The Coyotes Arena deal was opposed by grassroots groups because of the huge tax breaks provided through the Government Property Lease Excise Tax. GPLET is a tax abatement that encourages development in Arizona’s largest cities. Worker Power, along with other opponents, argued that the tax breaks could add up over time to millions of dollars not being spent on schools or other community needs.
The Coyotes finished their first season in the newly-christened Mullet Arena at Arizona State University Tempe with a 28-40-14 record, and a regular season attendance of 4500.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was very interested in the proposed project. He made two trips to Arizona over the last 12 months in order to show his support. He will be involved in the discussions with Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo about what comes next for the team. Many U.S. markets and Canadian cities have expressed interest in acquiring an NHL franchise.