Breaking News
More () »

Proposed site for Coyotes arena in Tempe may be toxic

Until construction begins, what's accumulated in the landfill for the last several decades remains a mystery.

TEMPE, Ariz. — The proposed site for the Tempe Entertainment District is mostly just rocks and debris.

The 46-acre site located at Rio Salado Parkway and Priest Drive would transform the land into a new arena for the Arizona Coyotes, restaurants, hotels, and apartments if approved by voters on May 16.

The total cost of the project is expected to be $2.1 billion.

What is not known now is what lies underneath that debris, raising concerns that the 50-plus-year landfill may have hazardous materials.

“We just don’t know," Tempe City Councilmember Joel Navarro said.

The landfill is designated as a brownfield site, according to Navarro. The EPA reports these properties may be home to hazardous substances. Common contaminants include lead, petroleum, and methane. 

“They were dumping oil into the landfill and whatever other chemicals,” Navarro said, discussing what he's heard from those living near the landfill.

Until the site is remediated and cleaned up, if Tempe residents pass three propositions in May, no one will know for sure.

The Arizona Coyotes' development arm has allocated $73 million for remediation. The potential problem is with nearly 2,000 planned; if hazardous materials are located, more clean-up will need to happen, according to the EPA.

Navarro hopes that will not be the case but assures those living in Tempe that the cost will not fall on them.

“It could be maybe a little bit over that 72 million dollars. We just don’t know until you actually have that construction done, but at the end of the day, that’s on the developer, and that’s why it’s a good deal for the city.”

Tom Brown, a member of Tempe 1st, the group against the entertainment district, doesn't believe there are any toxic materials in the landfill, citing a study from four years ago that looked into the land just next to the proposed site when the I.D.E.A. Tempe campus was being looked at.

"The test reports that there are no toxins," Brown said.

Instead, his concern focuses on the developers. Brown believes it will not cost the estimated $73 million to remediate the land, and those behind the project will either pocket the bond money or use it for something else.

A spokesperson for the Arizona Coyotes addressed the claims made by Brown. Sending 12News a statement that said the City's own environmental analysis found "the presence or likely presence" of methane and petroleum substances in the landfill. 

Up to Speed

Catch up on the latest news and stories on the 12News YouTube channel. Subscribe today.

Before You Leave, Check This Out