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Report: Arizona Coyotes exploring new arena site in Mesa

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These are extremely early discussions, but the Coyotes are at least interested.

MLB: Spring Training-Cincinnati Reds at Chicago Cubs
Might an arena rise up behind the outfield walls?
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

When IceArizona’s potential partnership with Arizona State University went underwater, the Arizona Coyotes’ ownership alluded to the possibility of other sites. We now appear to know one of those options.

The Arizona Republic reported late yesterday evening that representatives from IceArizona communicated with the City of Mesa about a possible arena site at Sloan Park, the current home of the Chicago Cubs during Spring Training. According to the Republic, Coyotes’ representatives inquired about Mesa’s current transportation and hotel taxes, while also contacting legal counsel for the Cubs.

Sloan Park is not terribly far away from the previous site on Karsten Golf Course. It is also on Rio Solado Parkway, but on the opposite side of the Loop 101 approximately two miles away from the old site, as you can see here:

While Sloan Park itself is fully developed by the Cubs as a Spring Training complex, some of the surrounding land might be large enough to accommodate an arena. The arena itself (including its delivery area) sits on a parcel of land measuring approximately 300 meters x 150 meters. Mesa Riverview Park is not a perfect square, but a square parcel of land 320 meters x 230 meters could fit inside the existing confines, though it would not leave room for much else.

There are a few other challenges that would have to be considered even if the Coyotes cleared all of the legal hurdles. First, the Coyotes would have a parking situation very similar to their current one, with the Cubs and the Mesa Riverview commercial development taking the places of the Arizona Cardinals and Westgate in Glendale, respectively. There is room for additional parking, but that would not avoid the free-rider problem that plagued the Coyotes in the West Valley.

Second, there are traffic issues to consider. Spring Training usually doesn’t interfere with evening games, but odds are the Coyotes and Cubs would eventually share home dates on the calendar. Even assuming Cubs games start at 1:05 or 1:10 PM (which most do currently), a game that runs 3-3.5 hours would begin to empty out right as fans for the Coyotes game would begin to arrive.

One upshot of a Sloan Park site over a Karsten site is that the major north/south thoroughfare - Dobson Road, has on/offramps running both directions on the 202, whereas McClintock Road in Tempe only had a westbound onramp and an eastbound offramp. They would also benefit from on/off ramps of Rio Salado/8th street on the 101, which is just one mile west of the location.

Third and finally, there is far less room for new developments around Sloan Park than there is at Karsten in Tempe. In addition to the Mesa Riverview commercial development area, Sloan Park also shares a site with the Northwest Water Reclamation Plant, which is not going anywhere. As a result, it may be more difficult to secure other private investment if there are fewer opportunities for new developments.

The report also notes that discussions between IceArizona and the City of Mesa are at a very early stage, and that according to the city, “There's nothing specific that they're trying to land over there. It's all just research.” Still, it indicates that the Coyotes are exploring their options at various locations throughout the Valley.