The Arizona Coyotes gave fans another reason to worry about the team’s future Wednesday night, but according to the team, that could have been avoided.
The City of Glendale on Wednesday notified Wolves that it intends to close the team outside Gila River Stadium on December 20, if all payments owed by the team to the city and ASM Global, which operates the facility to the city, have not yet been paid.
In a letter from Glendale City Manager Kevin Phelps to Coyotes President and CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez, Phelps informs Wolves that the Arizona Department of Revenue has filed a state tax lien notice for unpaid taxes owed by IceArizona, Coyotes’ property corporation. The amount owed, according to the letter, is $1.3 million, including $250,000 to the city.
In the letter, Phelps said there was also an unpaid balance from the 2020-21 season due to ASM Global.
The city intends to revoke IceArizona’s business license, which was notified to the team via a separate letter. Phelps wrote that he has instructed ASM Global to keep wolves out of the Gila River Arena if taxes and rent are not paid in full by 5 p.m. on December 20.
The Coyotes team did not immediately respond to the report, which first appeared in The Athletic. But late on Wednesday night they released a statement.
“We have already launched an investigation to determine how this happened, and initial indications are that it appears to be the result of unfortunate human error,” Coyotes’ statement read. “Regardless, we deeply regret the inconvenience this has caused. We will make sure that by tomorrow morning (Thursday), the Arizona wolf is valid on all of our bills and owes no state or local tax whatsoever. And we will take immediate steps to make sure this can’t happen. Anything like that again.”
The original report said team staff will be denied access to the stadium and the team’s offices inside the stadium as of the December 20 deadline.
Phelps confirmed the position to the Republic of the Republic on Wednesday evening before sending the Coyotes statement.
Wolves’ Arizona history is filled with documented moments of instability and uncertainty about the team’s future.
In recent seasons, the team has had to refute a social media post from a respected commercial media that wolves are for sale again. But the property quickly rejected the report.
The Coyotes were told in August that the city intended to end negotiations for a new lease agreement between the two parties after years of trying to find a circuit deal that would suit both. That marks the end of Wolves’ time at the facility at the end of this season in 2022.
The move follows the announcement of the team’s plans to set up an arena and recreation area in Tempe. The team is still working out where they will play next season and in the near future, with the hope that the circuit proposal will pass and construction begin.
Phelps said in August that he was still “fairly optimistic” that a deal would be reached after the Tempe announcement, but ultimately said The city plans to go in a different direction with events booking for the plaza.
A report from the city showed that events such as concerts at the Gila River Arena bring the city much more revenue than the Coyotes Games. But the arena hosts much more hockey games than concerts and other events.
(Arizona Republic reporter Joshua Pauling contributed to this report.)
Contact Jose Romero at Jose.Romero@gannett.com. You can find him on Twitter at Tweet embed