Mesa's Fiesta Mall with entrance doors boarded with plywood, and guarded by a standalone security unit equipped with cameras and sirens, on May 18, 2023. (Photo by Rey Covarrubias Jr.)

Arizona Coyotes talk to Mesa about move to Fiesta Mall

The Arizona Coyotes spoke to the city of Mesa on Wednesday about the NHL team’s potential relocation to the vacant Fiesta Mall, according to a report by AZfamily, after the Coyotes failed to convince Tempe voters to pass propositions that would have built a new sports arena and entertainment center for the team on a Tuesday special election.

On Thursday afternoon, the city of Mesa sent a statement in response to the Mesa Legend’s request for information on the Coyotes’ interest in Fiesta Mall, but the city did not provide specifics on any talks with the team.

“Fiesta Mall is one of the most attractive pieces of urban real estate in the valley today. It is massive, adjacent to three major highways, and only 20 minutes from two major airports,” the statement read. 

“We look forward to working with the property owner on proposals to bring diverse uses to the Fiesta Mall site and long-term sustainable and vibrant economic activity to the Fiesta District,” the statement ended.

Fiesta Mall, once the heart of Mesa’s “Fiesta District”, officially closed its doors in 2019 when Dillards exited as its last remaining store.

Now more than 40 years old, Fiesta Mall sits dormant, with its vandalized parking structure and boarded up entrances continuing to deteriorate each day. Evidence of a fire was seen at a Fiesta Mall upper level entrance on May 18, 2023.

On March 3, 2023, the mall’s current owner, Verde Investments, filed pre-submittal documents to the city of Mesa to redevelop the site into mixed use residential.

Verde’s envisioned renovation transforms the 80 acre property of Fiesta Mall into retail and office establishments, and up to 4,000 multi-family housing units with a greenspace serving as a commons to residents, according to the application.

A sample of what Verde Investment’s redevelopment of Fiesta Mall could look like, as presented in a pre-submittal application sent to the city of Mesa. Photo retrieved on May 18, 2023 (Photo courtesy of the city of Mesa)

Ernest Garcia, a majority shareholder of used car dealer Carvana, is the owner of Verde Investments, according to his Bloomberg business profile. 

Verde first purchased select portions of Fiesta Mall in 2015, and bought the entire property in 2020. 

Verde planned to convert the mall into office space, but plans stalled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the application.

A move for the Coyotes to Mesa’s Fiesta Mall could bring unknown variables to Verde’s redevelopment plan that was already submitted to the city. 

Verde Investments did not immediately respond to the Mesa Legend’s request for comment about interest in their property by the Coyotes.

Even if the Coyotes were interested in making Mesa their new home, it would likely need to go to a special election as per Mesa city code, similar to what was held in Tempe.

After the Arizona Coyotes were kicked out of Glendale in 2021, and denied a new arena by Tempe residents, rumors are still swirling on the team’s options left in the Valley, including the possibility of sharing the Phoenix Suns’ Footprint Center located in the heart of Phoenix’s downtown district.

The Coyotes will still play through the 2024-2025 NHL season at ASU’s Mullett Arena in Tempe, which they share with the Sun Devils hockey team.

  • Rey Covarrubias Jr.

    Rey Covarrubias Jr. is the Managing Editor for the Mesa Legend. As a lifelong Arizonan, he has found his passion in learning and sharing the diverse cultural and natural wonders of the state. Rey started writing for the Mesa Legend in 2022.

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