GLENDALE, Ariz. — Gila River Arena is in for a makeover as soon as the Arizona Coyotes exit the ice for the final time.
Glendale leaders announced Tuesday that the city has hired engineering firm HOK to lead the renovation of the 18,000-seat venue after the city decided last August to end its relationship with the NHL club at the conclusion of the 2021-22 season.
HOK is a design and architecture firm based in St. Louis, Missouri.
Some of the projects spearheaded by HOK include a new terminal at LaGuardia Airport and the design of a 350,000-square-foot building in New Jersey for South Korean business conglomerate LG.
“We are incredibly excited about the bright future as we evolve the facility and reinvent how people experience Gila River Arena,” City Manager Kevin Phelps said.
Gila River Arena, formerly called Jobing.com Arena, was the centerpiece of the Westgate Entertainment District after construction was completed in 2003.
But the hapless Coyotes organization failed to find much success in the following decades. Despite earning a division championship in 2011, the club has been mired in financial trouble that included bankruptcy in the past.
Most recently in December, Glendale leaders threatened to lock the team out of the building after the Coyotes failed to pay the city and state $1.3 million in taxes. The issue was resolved, but it was another sour note in the ongoing fallout between the city and the team.
It’s unclear if the arena will continue to host sporting events or if the space will be transformed into something else.
Glendale leaders said the renovations are meant to attract “high-profile national and international acts,” but details of the modernization project are still vague.
The city said that the next step is a meeting with HOK to develop design ideas.
Meanwhile, the Coyotes are sitting at last place in the Central Division and play their last home game on April 29 against the Nashville Predators.
The team is in talks to build a brand-new arena in Tempe. The proposal is still under review by the city.
Even if the $1.7 billion project is approved, the new arena wouldn’t open its doors until 2026.
An interim home for the Coyotes hasn’t been announced yet.
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