Skip to Content Facebook Feature Image

Coyotes' bid for new arena hits another snag with cancelation of land auction

ENT

Coyotes' bid for new arena hits another snag with cancelation of land auction
ENT

ENT

Coyotes' bid for new arena hits another snag with cancelation of land auction

2024-06-22 06:42 Last Updated At:06:50

PHOENIX (AP) — An auction for a tract of land where Arizona Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo had hoped to build a new arena has been canceled.

The Arizona State Land Department announced Friday it was canceling next Thursday's auction and reordering the steps so the applicant can file for a special use permit.

“We understand the delay in an auction is a disappointment for our applicant and members of the public, but the change in timing is the prudent decision for the Trust,” ASLD said in a statement. “ASLD remains open to working with our applicant to bring the land forward to auction in the future if a special use permit is received.”

The 110-acre tract of land in North Phoenix had been targeted by Meruelo in hopes of ending the Coyotes' long-running bid to find a permanent home. When the auction for the land appraised at $68.5 million was pushed back until this summer, Meruelo followed the advice of the NHL and opted to sell the franchise to Utah Jazz owners Ryan and Ashley Smith in April.

The Smiths moved the franchise to Salt Lake City, renaming it the Utah Hockey Club. Meruelo retained the Coyotes’ name, logo and trademark with plans to resurrect the team as an expansion franchise if a new arena is built within five years.

Cancelation of the land auction now puts that in doubt.

“Today, after a year of planning and meeting every obligation required under Arizona law, the Arizona State Land Department unilaterally canceled the auction that was scheduled to occur on June 27th for the site that has been identified as the future home of the Arizona Coyotes," the Coyotes said in a statement. "This unprecedented action by the State of Arizona seriously jeopardizes the future of NHL hockey returning to the desert.”

The Coyotes have been searching for a permanent home almost since the day the franchise moved from Winnipeg in 1996.

The team shared a downtown Phoenix arena with the NBA's Phoenix Suns before moving to Glendale in 2003. When the city of Glendale backed out of a long-term lease agreement, the Coyotes moved across town to play at Arizona State University's Mullett Arena in 2022.

The 5,000-seat arena, by far the smallest in the NHL, was supposed to be a temporary solution until the Coyotes could find a new home. The NHL was reluctant to have the team continue playing at Mullett for several more years while Meruelo tried to secure the north Phoenix land, leaving the sale to the Smiths as the only viable option.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league would need about 18 months to reactivate the franchise and was going to keep a close eye to make sure Meruelo and his group were hitting appropriate milestones in the process.

AP NHL: https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL

FILE - Arizona Coyotes players acknowledge the fans after an NHL hockey game against the Edmonton Oilers on April 17, 2024, in Tempe, Ariz. An auction for a tract of land on which Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo had hoped to build a new arena has been canceled. The Arizona State Land Department announced Friday, June 21, it was canceling next Thursday's auction and reordering the steps so the applicant can file for a special use permit. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

FILE - Arizona Coyotes players acknowledge the fans after an NHL hockey game against the Edmonton Oilers on April 17, 2024, in Tempe, Ariz. An auction for a tract of land on which Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo had hoped to build a new arena has been canceled. The Arizona State Land Department announced Friday, June 21, it was canceling next Thursday's auction and reordering the steps so the applicant can file for a special use permit. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

Next Article

What to know about Evan Gershkovich's conviction for espionage in Russia

2024-07-19 22:38 Last Updated At:22:40

The trial of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich ended Friday with his conviction on espionage charges that he, his employer and the U.S. government have dismissed as fabricated. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison.

Here’s what we know about the secretive process.

It took place in the Sverdlovsk Regional Court in the city of Yekaterinburg, about 880 miles (1,416 kilometers) east of Moscow. That's the city where Gershkovich was arrested in March 2023, while on a reporting trip.

The session was closed. Gershkovich was in court for the verdict and stood in the glass defendants' cage wearing a dark colored T-shirt. His head was shaved, just as it was at the start of his trial in June. It is not known whether he chose to shave it or whether he was forced to.

The judge sentenced Gershkovich to 16 years in a maximum security penal colony. The judge asked Gershkovich if he understood the verdict and he replied in Russian, “yes, your honor.” The judge asked if he had any questions and Gershkovich replied “no, your honor.”

As the press cameras were leaving court, someone shouted out “we love you Evan."

Gershkovich, the American-born son of immigrants from the USSR, is the first Western journalist arrested on espionage charges in post-Soviet Russia. Russian authorities, without presenting evidence, claimed he was gathering secret information for the U.S.

The State Department has declared him “wrongfully detained,” thereby committing the government to assertively seek his release.

The Journal's publisher, Almar Latour, and Emma Tucker, its top editor, called it a “disgraceful, sham conviction,” in a statement after the verdict. “Journalism is not a crime, and we will not rest until he’s released. This must end now,” Latour and Tucker said.

A top White House spokesman also called the proceedings “nothing more than a sham trial.”

“Evan has never been employed by the United States government. Evan is not a spy. Journalism is not a crime. And Evan should never have been detained in the first place,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday. “Russia has failed to justify Evan’s continued detention. He, like fellow American Paul Whelan, is simply being used as a bargaining chip.”

Gershkovich’s arrest came about a year after President Vladimir Putin pushed through laws that chilled journalists, criminalizing criticism of Russia’s war in Ukraine and statements seen as discrediting the military. Foreign journalists largely left the country after the laws’ passage, but some have trickled back in. There are concerns about whether Russian authorities would target them as animosity between Moscow and Washington grows.

After the verdict, Gershkovich is expected to be taken back to the detention facility in Yekaterinburg where he was held during the trial. Both the prosecution and defense have 15 days to appeal the sentence. If there’s no appeal, Gershkovich will be transferred back to prison.

If there is an appeal, Gershkovich will probably stay in Yekaterinburg until there is another hearing.

The process of transferring him can last days or even months, and it may only be clear where Gershkovich will serve his sentence once his lawyers are told that he has arrived at a prison.

Although Russia-U.S. relations are at their lowest point since the Cold War, the countries negotiated a swap in 2022 that freed WNBA star Brittney Griner, who had been serving a 9 1/2-year sentence for cannabis possession. Griner was exchanged for arms dealer Viktor Bout, who was imprisoned in the U.S.

The countries also traded Marine veteran Trevor Reed, who serving nine years in Russia for assaulting a police officer, and Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who’d been serving a 20-year prison sentence for conspiring to smuggle cocaine.

Putin hinted that he would be open to swapping Gershkovich for Vadim Krasikov, a Russian serving a life sentence in Germany for the 2019 killing in Berlin of a Georgian citizen of Chechen descent. However, Germany’s willingness to cooperate is uncertain.

It could be months or years. Russian officials previously said a swap can only happen after a verdict, but it depends on when Moscow and Washington can reach a deal. Past experiences differ drastically.

Griner was exchanged about four months after her verdict. Reed was released in a swap 21 months after his. Whelan, convicted of espionage in 2020 and sentenced to 16 years in prison, is still waiting.

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands listening to the verdict in a glass cage of a courtroom inside the building of "Palace of justice," in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Friday, July 19, 2024. A Russian court convicted Gershkovich on espionage charges that his employer and the U.S. have rejected as fabricated. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison after a secretive and rapid trial in the country's highly politicized legal system. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands listening to the verdict in a glass cage of a courtroom inside the building of "Palace of justice," in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Friday, July 19, 2024. A Russian court convicted Gershkovich on espionage charges that his employer and the U.S. have rejected as fabricated. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison after a secretive and rapid trial in the country's highly politicized legal system. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, second left, stands listening to the verdict in a glass cage of a courtroom inside the building of "Palace of justice," in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Friday, July 19, 2024. A Russian court convicted Gershkovich on espionage charges that his employer and the U.S. have rejected as fabricated. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison after a secretive and rapid trial in the country's highly politicized legal system. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, second left, stands listening to the verdict in a glass cage of a courtroom inside the building of "Palace of justice," in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Friday, July 19, 2024. A Russian court convicted Gershkovich on espionage charges that his employer and the U.S. have rejected as fabricated. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison after a secretive and rapid trial in the country's highly politicized legal system. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

Recommended Articles