Bag of Money ClipartEveryone is using a $6 million annual figure to operate arena. Where did this magical, mystical number come from? Paul Giblin in his article of May 5, 2013 states,”Scruggs said she changed her position after former City Attorney Craig Tindall sent a memo to council members last spring that advised them that the city had provided documents to the Goldwater Institute that showed the actual cost was about $6 million a year.” I saved all documents Coyotes related from my time on council. I even have the original agreements executed between the city and Steve Ellman. I searched through them all for former City Attorney Craig Tindall’s memo and do not have it. That does not mean that it doesn’t exist. I don’t remember it and apparently did not save it.

I can’t fathom where or how Tindall could have arrived at a $6M figure. In going back through the financial documents that I have – even the figures for Jerry Moyes (removing what he said his partners were owed) comes in very close to the Newco, LLC. numbers and that is $12+M annually to operate the arena; total revenues of $6M and total losses of $6M. Giblin in his article is willing to concede that, “…the arena-consulting firm International Facilities Group, of Chicago, told the city that a reasonable estimate to operate the arena without an anchor sports tenant would be in the range of $13.8 million to $14.7 million a year.” I have that study and can confirm what it says. There was also a TLHocking & Associates study done in January, 2012 entitled Comparison of Operating Costs for Similar Arenas, that compared 3 arenas with NHL teams with average operating costs of $15 million to $17 million.

During 2012 council participated in endless and continual public discussions (read polite arguments) about the cost of operating the arena. At some point, then Mayor Scruggs whipped out a figure of $6M. She said at the time, that she had done no research, had no basis for such a number and that she pulled it out of thin air. Somehow or another, probably because she used it incessantly publicly, it became the “real” number, so much so, that now Assistant City Manager Horatio Skeete used it as a “place holder” in the city’s current proposed budget. There is no basis in fact for a $6M annual operating figure for arena. If there is, I challenge anyone with that factual information to bring it forward for all to see. Show us all the money!