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Tempe councilman: 'Confederacy of dunces' ran Coyotes out of the Valley

On Thursday, in a unanimous vote, the NHL officially approved the Arizona Coyotes’ relocation to Salt Lake City. The news comes 11 months after Tempe voters rejected plans to build the team a new arena.

Tempe Councilman Randy Keating said voters were ultimately right to reject a proposal for the roughly $2 billion project, which would’ve been privately funded but paired with a massive property tax break.

“It’s one of those things that, in hindsight, the public was pretty clear,” said Keating. “I’m certainly glad the city of Tempe doesn’t have to deal with these guys.”

Keating said former team owner Alex Meruelo negotiated the new deal in bad faith.

“I think fans, rightfully so, feel they were strung along by this ownership,” Keating said.

The NHL has left the door open for a return to Phoenix with an expansion team. Keating said he hopes to see that happen. But he added that if it does, Meruelo shouldn’t be awarded the team because he misled fans.

“It wasn’t their fault that this was a confederacy of dunces running the team,” said Keating. “But when the Coyotes were winning — 2010, and 2011, '12 — this town was electric. I was at those games when we had the white-outs. People were excited for the Coyotes.”

Kirsten Dorman is a field correspondent at KJZZ. Born and raised in New Jersey, Dorman fell in love with audio storytelling as a freshman at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in 2019.