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Coyotes file $2.3 billion claim against Phoenix over arena

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — The Arizona Coyotes and the firm the franchise hired to develop a new arena project near Sky Harbor International Airport have filed a $2.3 billion notice of claim against the city of Phoenix for alleged breach of contract.

The claim, a precursor to a lawsuit, that was filed along with Bluebird Development is seeking damages from Phoenix for a legal filing by the city on March 27.

Phoenix asked in its legal filing to rescind Tempe’s recent zoning and land-use changes, along with prohibiting future residential considerations in an area the FAA says is incompatible with residential development.

The city and Sky Harbor said the plan for the Tempe Entertainment District, which would include a new home arena for the Coyotes, could not include previously approved multifamily housing due to noise issues under airport flight paths.

“Phoenix City Hall’s bad behavior seems intended to preserve its downtown sports venue monopoly and has nothing to do with safety or soundness of the airport,” Coyotes CEO and President Xavier Hernandez said in a statement. “While Phoenix bureaucrats have allowed developers to build a basketball arena, a ballpark, and apartments in flight paths, when Tempe attempts to do the same a manufactured crisis arrives.”

The $2.3 billion in damages sought equal the entitlement value of the Tempe Entertainment District.

The Coyotes have been negotiating with the city of Tempe to build on a tract of land just west of downtown in their bid to find a permanent home. The team is currently playing at Arizona State’s 5,000-seat Mullett Arena, by far the NHL’s smallest arena.

The proposed arena and entertainment district are set to go to a referendum in May.


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John Marshall, The Associated Press