By Sam Kmack | Arizona Republic
The Arizona Coyotes conceded defeat after Tempe voters rejected their proposed $2.1 billion development by a seemingly insurmountable margin, after all of the early ballots were counted Tuesday.
Maricopa County election officials said they counted some 29,153 ballots cast before Election Day. There were not enough same-day ballots left to count to overturn the losing margins.
Tuesday’s unofficial tally shows similar trends among the three ballot items ― Propositions 301, 302 and 303 — all of which needed to receive a majority of “yes” votes in order for the Coyotes project to move forward. Each one was losing by a 56% to 44% margin, with the exception of Prop. 303, which was losing 57% to 43%.
The result, if confirmed, throws doubt over the future of the National Hockey League team, which had staked its future on a new arena and a related entertainment and residential project on the western fringe of Tempe Town Lake.
Local opponents of the plan were thrilled.
“This is a victory by Tempe for Tempe,” wrote Tempe 1st, the opposition campaign, in a statement about the results. “Tonight, we want to say congratulations and thank you to our fellow Tempe residents.”
But for the Coyotes, Tuesday was a bitter and expensive pill.
“We are very disappointed Tempe voters did not approve Propositions 301, 302, and 303. As Tempe Mayor Corey Woods said, it was the best sports deal in Arizona history,” said Coyotes President Xavier Gutierrez. “What is next for the franchise will be evaluated by our owners and the National Hockey League over the coming weeks.”