Rio Nuevo board votes to upgrade TCC for pro hockey - Tucson News Now

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Rio Nuevo board votes to upgrade TCC for pro hockey

Tucson and the Tucson Convention Center are the first choice for the Arizona Coyotes to locate their top minor-league team. (Source: Tucson News Now) Tucson and the Tucson Convention Center are the first choice for the Arizona Coyotes to locate their top minor-league team. (Source: Tucson News Now)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The Rio Nuevo board voted unanimously on Tuesday to pay for upgrades to the Tucson Convention Center, which opens the door for the Arizona Coyotes to bring professional hockey back to Tucson.

The TCC project manager presented the board with cost estimates for upgrades which the National Hockey League says are necessary to house a minor-league hockey franchise there.

Rio Nuevo will spend $3.2 million for the first phase of upgrades. This phase is needed before the first season of play.

Phase 2 would be another $3.2 million, necessary only if an off-site facility is not approved.

An off-site facility would come with an estimated $8 million price tag.

Coyotes President Anthony LeBlanc said he wants a public/private partnership and that the team is committed to the long haul.

Earlier, the chair of the Rio Nuevo board told KOLD News 13, the cost of the upgrades needed at the TCC to add pro hockey would largely determine whether it's practical or not.

Fletcher McCusker said if the price tag is $2 million, $3 million or $5 million, that's reasonable and something the tax district could afford. If it's $20 million, that would not be feasible.

Tucson and the TCC were the first choice for the Coyotes to locate their top minor-league team.

The Coyotes last week purchased an American Hockey League franchise in Springfield, MA, and are looking to Tucson to be the new home for the team.

But the TCC needs upgrades if that's to happen.

According to the AHL. the TCC will need new dashers and glass, new equipment rooms, new locker rooms, game official quarters, press box and training rooms among others.

Team officials and the Rio Nuevo District have also considered building an off-site facility which can house the team, be open to the public, possibly for youth hockey, a restaurant and team store.

One concern is the potential for the team to leave the city which has happened with other professional sports franchises.

Part of any agreement may include that if the Coyotes leave early, there would be a financial penalty for all unamortized costs.

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