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Arizona Coyotes arena bill advances out of Senate committee

What’s next?

28th Annual Leigh Steinberg Super Bowl Party
This guy ends up being quite important to the process.
Photo by Maury Phillips/Getty Images for Leigh Steinberg

The demise of the potential arena development partnership between the Arizona Coyotes and Arizona State University left many Arizona fans in a state of bewilderment and exasperation. But one of the Coyotes’ allies in the State Legislature is doing his best to ameliorate the frustration as quickly as possible.

A bill in the Arizona State Senate that would create a special funding district in which an arena could be built cleared an early procedural hurdle when it was approved 6-1 in the Arizona State Senate’s Transportation and Technology Committee. The bill is sponsored by State Senator Bob Worsley, the chairman of the committee and the state senator for Legislative District 25, which includes a substantial portion of the City of Mesa.

The legislation itself does not mention the Coyotes or specifically require an arena be constructed, but the intent of the bill is not seriously disputed. KTAR reports that the estimated cost of the project would be just under $400 million, with $170 million paid for by the team, $55 million paid by the home city, and the remaining $170 million paid by the State of Arizona, with reimbursement via a special sales tax sharing formula.

SB 1149 also does not name a specific site or city to be the subject of the development, which Sen. Worsley acknowledges was done in response to the collapse of the ASU/Coyotes partnership.

“Everything was built in this legislation around the stadium district which is unique to ASU,” he said. “It’s now being reworked so it can work for any location. It would work the same way but we would create an entertainment district that would not be a sub-part of the stadium district.”

The authorization for the special taxing district expires in 2019, which Senator Worsley believes will preclude the Phoenix Suns or Arizona Diamondbacks for using the legislative language for the purposes of financing their own facilities.

To be clear, a significant amount of work needs to be done before this legislation becomes law. It first must clear a full vote in the Senate before it is submitted to the House of Representatives. After it clears both chambers, it goes to Arizona Governor Doug Ducey for his signature or veto.

State Representative Anthony Kern, who represents portions of Glendale, has already voiced his opposition to the proposed legislation. And some of those who voted in favor of the bill in committee were not exactly steadfast in their commitment.

Coyotes fans will likely know the outcome of SB 1149 before the season ends: the Arizona State Legislature is scheduled to adjourn on April 7th, a day before the Coyotes’ final game of the season. Bills do not carry over from session to session, so if Coyotes fans wish to register their support for this particular legislation, they will have to act fast. If you want to contact your representative you can locate the district you live in here.