UPDATE: Coyotes blame ‘human error’ for past-due taxes and are now up to date
GLENDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- The company that owns the Arizona Coyotes paid off more than a million in back taxes and fees to avoid getting locked out of its rink in Glendale.
As first reported by The Athletic, the Arizona Department of Revenue filed a tax lien notice Dec. 3 against IceArizona Hockey, which owns and operates the Coyotes and Tucson Roadrunners.
The Coyotes, who have had a troubled run in Arizona, were faced with the possibility of being locked out of the Gila River Arena on Dec. 20.
IceArizona Hockey paid the debts and was up to date by Thursday morning.
“I hate to compliment people for paying bills that are due that are owed,” said Glendale City Manager Kevin Phelps. “While certainly we are pleased that they paid, this is not a time to throw a party, as well.”
Had the organization not met the deadline, the city instructed arena officials to deny team employees access to the arena. Arena vendors would have been locked out, as well.
“No, it wasn’t a bluff. We were fully prepared,” said Phelps. “I talked to (NHL Commissioner) Gary Bettman yesterday and let him know we were fully prepared to no longer have NHL games in the area.”
According to AZ Family, the team owed more than $1.3 million in unpaid state and city taxes, including $250,000 to the City of Glendale.
The future of the Coyotes has been up in the air for a while, almost since the franchise moved to Arizona in 1996.
In 2009, the team tried to file for bankruptcy and claimed it had lost millions of dollars since moving from Canada. That plan was rejected, but the NHL ended up buying the team for $140 million.
For four years, the NHL tried to find a buyer only to see several deals fall through. In August 2013, IceArizona purchased the team from the league.
In 2018, ESPN reported Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta was in talks to buy and move the team. Nothing came out of the rumors and the team stayed put.
Then in August 2021, Glendale announced it would not renew the team’s lease to use the Gila River Arena. The team has yet to find an arena to play its games when the 2022-23 season starts.
Just last week, the franchise had to deny rumors it was up for sale and possibly headed for Houston.
“This is false. Totally false,” the team said in a statement. “We’re not selling. We’re not moving. The Coyotes are 100 percent committed to playing in Arizona.”
In 2015, the Coyotes bought an AHL team based in Massachusetts and moved it to Tucson.
The Roadrunners started play in 2016 and saw almost immediate success.
During the 2017-18 season, Tucson made the second round of the playoffs. The Roadrunners won their division again in 2019-20, but the playoffs were canceled due to the pandemic.
There is no word yet on what would happen to the Roadrunners if the Coyotes do move.
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