This week, we heard of the possibility of the Arizona Coyotes relocating to Tempe. Of course, it is kind of a big deal in the local sports world, but there could be some long term implications for the local transit world, as well.
Think about this… The Coyotes might be getting a shiny new home located at the northwest corner of McClintock and Rio Salado. This shiny new home will be between the shiny / newly renovated Sun Devil Stadium at Rio Salado and Rural and the “almost” new Cubs stadium just east of the 101 and Rio Salado.
Heck, even before the Coyotes announcement, there had been talks of wanting to extend the Streetcar line further down Rio Salado. One thing we can safely say is that the Streetcar line was extended to go east on Rio Salado from Mill Avenue to serve Sun Devil Stadium and the massive Marina Heights development. Right? Right.
We can also safely say that the traffic along Rio Salado is going to continue to get worse and worse. ASU’s Athletics Facilities District pretty much straddles Rio Salado from Rural to McClintock, and the Coyotes development could be a big catalyst to spur a lot more development along that roadway. The Rio Salado intersections at Rural and at McClintock will need some real help when we start to see a LOT more traffic in this area. We know there will be a lot more than just one development deal made along this stretch of roadway. Karsten golf course is going away and we’ll see new jobs, new residents, more sports fans, etc. in ASU’s Athletic Facilities District. This is something the city, ASU and developers are very well aware of.
Cost of doing business?
One thing we learned when funding for the Streetcar system has been an issue in the past, is the fact that public / private partnerships can be created to help with some of the costs of building or maintaining the Streetcar. I’m no genius, but I would hope that we have people at the City, at ASU and in the development world who would take some time to see how a real people moving option can be extended along this stretch of Rio Salado. Heck, the businesses at Tempe Marketplace, the developers of the Cubs Stadium, ASU, the Coyotes, the owners of the multiple hotels being built on Rio Salado, etc. all benefit greatly from having more and more traffic in these areas. These same people might want to have a way to get people to and from the area efficiently. Sure, all of them may want to point the finger at the others and see if they can get “off the hook” for paying to build a system like that, but it just might take a village to get ‘er done.
We know it probably wouldn’t make $ense for the Coyotes to build a Streetcar by themselves, but one could reasonably say that the timing could be right for discussions like this to be taking place. Building shiny new arenas doesn’t happen overnight. Building transit systems certainly doesn’t happen overnight, either. Fixed transit systems have been proven to help with economic development. I’m pretty sure we’ll be seeing a decent amount of economic development along Rio Salado…