Tempe City Council agrees to move ahead with proposed entertainment district; now up to voters

TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — At a final meeting Tuesday night, the Tempe City Council unanimously agreed to move forward with the proposed Coyotes entertainment district and arena. The next step is for Coyotes officials to collect signatures to place on the ballot. After collecting enough signatures, residents can vote for or against the project on May 16.

Coyotes issued a statement shortly after the council’s decision.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was among many who expressed support for the proposal. Bettman traveled to Tempe to show the Coyotes their support. He said the entertainment and entertainment will bring people together and shine a light on Tempe. “If you go back over the last 25 years, our commitment to Arizona has never wavered, and hopefully we can get to a place where that new level is a reality,” he said. “We know it’s a great market, they’re great fans and that’s where we want to be.”

Tempe residents needed just five of the city council’s seven “yes” votes to vote, and they’ll be the ones deciding whether to get the $2.1 billion entertainment district. The vote was tied 7-0. The 46-acre project is located at the corner of Priest Drive and Rio Salado Parkway. It will have 16,000 apartments, hotels and restaurants. Among those who supported the idea were the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Gila River Resort and Tempe Tourism.

The council held its first meeting last Tuesday, where all parties presented their views and ideas on the project. Coyotes president and CEO Xavier Gutierrez said the district would bring 7,000 jobs, but opponents of the proposal said it would create parking, traffic and housing problems in Tempe.

Still, Bettman said not a single state taxpayer dollar is at risk. This project will be built with private funds, he said. “We have a lot of respect for the process. “We believe that once people understand the benefits of this project, it will gain widespread support,” he explained. Gutierrez echoed Bettman’s comments about funding. “This is an opportunity to turn a landfill into a landmark. It is funded by the private sector. There are no special discounts we want. We are the right people to take on this project, given our experience, financial resources and the owner’s commitment,” said Gutierrez.

Tempe’s traffic engineer said the city will add new technology to streets to ease traffic and offer alternative modes of transportation such as shuttles, buses, bicycles and scooters. Opponents, however, are concerned that the project’s location will complicate Sky Harbor Airport’s flight patterns. Officials said residential units would be placed directly under their flight path, adding that Tempe and Phoenix had previously agreed to no housing in the area because of noise concerns.

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