Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.
Has anyone else noticed that Anthony LeBlanc, presumably still CEO of the Coyotes, has been publicly missing in the latest Coyotes dust-up? Where is he? We’ve heard from the General Manager, the Public Relations people, even Gary Bettman and Andrew Barroway…but not a peep or sighting of LeBlanc? Has he been muzzled or given his walking papers? Hmmm…who knows?
It seems in the light of a new day NHL Commissioner Bettman is back peddling just a tad. Today, March 8, 2017 down in Florida he said the Phoenix area is a terrific hockey market. Yep, just follow the money, Mr. Bettman. Oh, again, by the way, has Ice Arizona paid the NHL the $70 million it borrowed to purchase the team, Mr. Bettman? Yet Glendale has proven its support with millions in cold, hard cash.
It seems you have drunk the IceArizona kool-aid and have joined in the mantra of blame Glendale for cancelling its long-term IceArizona arena management contract after 2 years. I guess you forgot about Craig Tindall and Julie Frisoni, City of Glendale employees who allegedly aided and abetted IceArizona while it was negotiating its management contract with the city. I guess you forgot that IceArizona allegedly represented that the city would recoup its $15 million a year payment by receiving “enhanced revenues” from parking fees, ticket surcharges, naming rights, etc.?
Did you know that IceArizona submitted its annual financial report to the city, kicking and screaming, at least 3 months after it was due? Did you know that while some of the financial numbers presented were audited numbers some of the critical revenue numbers the Coyotes claimed as proprietary and were not audited? Glendale was told trust us and don’t verify. As a result, each year of the 2 years the contract existed Glendale did not receive verifiable, audited numbers while it received revenues that never met the IceArizona representations…actually millions less than the represented numbers.
At what point did city council throw up its hands? After the alleged collusion between IceArizona and city employees? After it received revenues that in no way met the IceArizona representations? After the city’s inability to get verifiable, audited figures?
The city’s trust had been eroded by these alleged bad acts. Did you forget that these were the reasons why Glendale cancelled its contract with IceArizona? It’s so very convenient to point the finger at Glendale and say, it’s all your fault. You’re the bad guys because you cancelled the contract while conveniently ignoring or forgetting alleged prior bad faith acts on the part of IceArizona. And it’s so much easier to say that fans won’t come to games in Glendale.
How soon you forget. Remember the recent season the Coyotes made the play-offs? The arena was filled…it was magical…seas of white out shirts…fan excitement…distance to travel to a game didn’t matter to see a winning team. The real question to be asked by all is this…is this team now unprofitable because the product on the ice is bad and Valley fans are not motivated to go to the games anywhere they are held or is it, as you claim, because the East Valley will not travel to the West Valley to support hockey? I suspect it is the former reason.
Mr. Bettman, your ultimatum to the people of Arizona created a backlash that you cannot reverse or contain. You angered not just members of your fan base but the general taxpayer population as well. And guess what? You can’t put this genie back in the jar.
Here are just a few of the comments reported by the Arizona Republic’s Facebook page since Bettman and Barroway delivered their ultimatum of pay for a new arena or we leave:
- ): “I have to say I am a huge coyotes fan. Every game I’m not at I’m watching. But I can tell you if you’re going to issue an ultimatum to the taxpayer to pay for your Stadium or you’re leaving. Then pack your bags and get out. You guys don’t put a winning product on the ice and you’re going to lose the face of the franchise as soon as you try to to trade him or he retires and that’s game over. So tired of sports teams thinking everything should be handed to them on a silver platter as if they provide some service to society that’s beneficial.”
- “I’m a diehard hockey fan. However, I do not support tax payer funded playgrounds that billionaires benefit from. They make the money, we just pay for the playground and the. To also watch the games. There is not one instance where a publicly funded arena – for any sport – has left the municipality ahead. It is always to their detriment. Case in point Chase Field.”
- “You might have a bargaining chip if you had a consistent winning team. People are drawn to winners. Start winning and more people will come. DO NOT blame your revenue problems on Glendale, when it is your own doing.”
Channel 12 TV news is running a current online poll with the question being, Has the time come to tell the Coyotes to leave Arizona? Results as of this writing: Yes 67% and No 33%.
The Arizona Republic in a recent story cited the cost to taxpayers to have publicly funded the construction of sports venues in the Valley. The numbers are astounding and the total of $1.1 billion is just for the building of 4 existent sports venues:
- Suns $90 M
- Diamondbacks $354 M
- Coyotes $220 M
- Cardinals $455 M
The acknowledgement that IceArizona has lost millions annually does nothing, absolutely nothing, to convince taxpayers that IceArizona merits this kind of investment. Their losses do nothing to assure taxpayers that they can hold up their end of the bargain and will be able to invest $170 million of their own money, what money? into the deal.
To the team owners…it’s time for cooler, saner heads to prevail. Stop bad mouthing Glendale for your failures. Come back to the table. AEG stands ready to negotiate a mutually beneficial arrangement with you – one that is fair to all. That kind of arrangement will win the support of Glendale. It’s time to concentrate your energies on reviving superior management, a robust marketing strategy and a team that wins your fans back.
© Joyce Clark, 2017
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