Let me pose a hypothetical question. I will offer you two choices. I will give you a scrumptious steak dinner every day for one week. After that week I will give you nothing. You are on your own. Or I will give you a hamburger dinner every day forever. You will never have to worry about providing your food.
I think most of us would choose the certainty of knowing we would have an assured supply of food. Of course, there will be the few who will choose the immediate gratification of that glorious steak dinner and worry about the consequences of that choice later.
Hockey fans are wonderfully diverse, men and women, toddler to septuagenarian, white to black, American to Canadian, Catholic, Jew and Atheist. They share one common theme and that is absolute devotion to the team of their choosing. In Arizona and beyond the team of choice is the Coyotes. The nearly four year saga to find an owner who is committed to keeping the team in Glendale has been trying for all and no more so than for its fan base.
The band of hockey brothers and sisters that fought off, as one cohesive group, a referendum and an effort to repeal a sales tax increase in Glendale has now dissolved into two groups of equally committed and passionate hockey fans. The steak and hamburger analogy is an apt way of describing the camps that have arisen. One group has decided on the steak, the other on the hamburger. The steak group wants the Coyotes to say, even if it’s only short term. The hamburger group wants the assurance of permanency and wants the team for the duration. Is one group right and the other wrong? No, of course not.
I am in the hamburger group and I will tell you why after having been intimately involved as a councilmember from the time the decision was made to build the arena and the Coyotes played their very first game at Jobing.com arena until January 15, 2013, my last day as an elected official.
Jobing.com arena was built primarily, contrary to the former Mayor’s assertions, to host hockey. Of course there would be other non-hockey events held there as well. Witness the wonderful concerts that we have attended over the years. But its primary function was to serve as a hockey arena. History attests to the fact. Steve Ellman owned a hockey team and he was looking for a new home for the team. Hockey is the lynch pin of Westgate. It attracted the UofP Stadium, Cabela’s, the Renaissance Hotel and a myriad of other commercial venues.
When it seemed as if the ownership issue was about to be resolved in 2012, a resurgence of Westgate development occurred with the opening of Tanger Outlet Mall, new restaurants like Chipotle arriving and Dignity Health Hospital’s decision to locate nearby. These development actions demonstrate that once permancey for the team as an anchor tenant is achieved, further development will explode – just in time for Glendale’s hosting of the Super Bowl.
Then there is the team itself. Imagine playing each and every game wondering if it’s your last in Arizona. As much as the General Manager, coaches and players try to ignore the implications, periodically another spate of media speculation ekes its way into their consciousness. No one can play their best under a perpetual cloud of uncertainty. This team deserves better. They deserve the assurance of knowing that this is their home not just for 5 years, only to relive today’s turmoil once again, but for the next 10-15-20 years.
Knowing that the Coyotes will remain for the long haul is so important for the team and for Westgate. I choose hamburger forever.