Header image alt text

Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

Disclaimer: The comments in the blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

Today, March 7, 2017 NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman penned a letter of utter desperation to Arizona’s senate president and speaker of the house followed almost immediately by a statement by Andrew Barroway, Coyotes majority owner and chairman. Here is the link: http://www.abc15.com//sports/sports-blogs-local/nhl-commissioner-to-state-legislature-coyotes-must-have-a-new-arena?utm_source=SilverpopMailing .

Let’s think about Commissioner Bettman’s statement for a moment. In 2003 when the Coyotes played their first game in Glendale’s new arena, built specifically for them, Gary Bettman gushed about Glendale. He praised Glendale. He couldn’t heap enough praise on Glendale.

The original owner of the Coyotes, Steve Ellman, had no deal requiring the City to subsidize the team. Ellman, not only ran the team successfully, he filled the arena regularly and consistently with big ticket concerts. Then Ellman sold his interest to Jerry Moyes. Moyes appeared to have bled the team dry until like a sun-baked prune it had nothing more to offer to him…and so, in 2009 he went to Glendale and asked for an annual subsidy. Glendale said “no” and Moyes followed through on his threat to put the team in bankruptcy while trying to craft a side deal to sell the team to Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie, who wanted to relocate the team to Hamilton, Ontario. 

In 2009 in a desperate move to keep the team in Glendale, the NHL took over the team and charged Glendale $25 million a year to manage it. Bettman was Glendale’s partner, Glendale’s buddy. Again, he couldn’t say enough good things about Glendale and its willingness to work with him and to keep the team in Glendale…and Arizona.

Glendale invested $185 million in construction of the hockey arena with debt service over 30 years, the final commitment is about $325 million…cha ching.

Glendale paid the NHL $50 million over 2 years to manage the team and keep it in Glendale and Arizona…cha ching.

Glendale paid IceArizona $15 million a year to manage the arena, again to keep the team in Glendale and Arizona…cha ching.

And this is how Commissioner Bettman recognizes the city for its investment and loyalty. Pardon me…but what a crock.

Along comes Anthony LeBlanc and his merry band of Canadian investors. By the way, have the team owners ever paid back the $70 million they borrowed from the league to buy the team? LeBlanc, et.al., in a snit fit, have apparently chosen revenge against Glendale because the city council had the temerity to cancel the owner’s arena management contract and the lucrative subsidy it provided. Didn’t it bother you, Mr. Bettman, that the team couldn’t provide straightforward answers to the city regarding their finances? Didn’t it give you pause?

Glendale was golden, until now. You never wrung your hands about the Glendale arena when it was built in 2003 or when Moyes declared bankruptcy in 2009. You never wrung your hands up until now. Mr. Bettman, did the majority Canadian owners of the Coyotes threaten to leave Arizona and move to Canada? Is that the straw that caused you to send a last minute, begging letter to the Arizona legislature supporting the Coyotes’ attempt to extort money from the legislature to support construction of yet another sports venue on the backs of Arizona taxpayers? Is your desire to stay in Arizona at all costs founded on its lucrative media market and a move to Canada would eliminate that?

I’m sure the members of the Arizona legislature have wondered how the Coyotes ownership will come up with $170 million as their share of the funding that SB 1149 requires when the Coyotes admit to millions in sustained losses every year, over the last few years. Which city is willing to become the host city and pour another $55 million down what appears to be a rat hole? Certainly there is no support among Arizona’s taxpayers to shell out another $170 million in sales tax to support this scheme.

It simply flies in the face of logic to build another hockey arena in Arizona when there is already a wonderful facility built specifically for the Coyotes. The growth of the Metro Phoenix area is in the West Valley and believe me there are plenty of demographically affluent, potential fans here. Could the possibility of poor management, non-existent marketing and a lousy product on the ice be the reason for the free fall in attendance?

Shame on you, Mr. Bettman. Glendale has proven itself repeatedly to be a reliable and stalwart partner in your desire to keep the Coyotes in Arizona. Now you turn your back on the city. If that’s how you treat friends, I pity anyone on your enemies list.

© Joyce Clark, 2017               

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

On April 22, 2014 on a vote of 16-10 HB 2547 was rejected in the Arizona Senate. It would have partially reimbursed Glendale for public safety expenditures related to hosting the upcoming Super Bowl in 2015. This is an event that generates large sales tax revenues all over the state and especially in the Phoenix Metro area.

Here are realities some Arizona senators conveniently ignored. The state, the county, the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority (AZSTA), the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee and the Bidwills all breathed a sigh of relief when Glendale stepped up to the tune of $35M for infrastructure improvements surrounding the stadium and accepted construction of the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale when no other city in the Phoenix Metropolitan area was willing to do so.  Glendale held its tongue when publicly slapped in the face by the naming of the stadium as the University of Phoenix Stadium.

Glendale looked forward to its first Super Bowl hosting experience and assumed that new sales tax revenues would cover the costs associated with being a host city. It was a pilot project and learning experience. Glendale did an outstanding job of hosting and has been praised as a model experience. Glendale spent $2.2M in 2008 as a host city. It earned sales tax revenue of $1M losing $1.2M in the process. It was an expensive lesson.

If anyone believes that public safety was the only cost to Glendale for hosting the 2008 Super Bowl, they are fools. Don’t forget at a minimum to include sanitation and transportation. Glendale sanitation had extra duties in assuring that the venue was clean and neat for a minimum of two weeks.. Glendale’s transportation staff coordinated all of the transportation logistics during the NFL Experience and on game day. Then there were the countless hours of Glendale staff time in preparation for the event and the countless meetings with NFL and Arizona Host Committee officials. Glendale put a lot of skin into the 2008 game yet it was cities like Scottsdale, Tempe and Phoenix that reaped gorilla sized sales tax revenues.

Some of these Arizona senators were lied to with impunity. They were told that Glendale made money on the 2008 Super Bowl. I was there. I was on the city council. I saw the figures. Glendale did not make money. I was one of only two councilmembers who voted against hosting it again in 2015 for the very reason that Glendale lost money. I said publicly at the time that without a reimbursement mechanism in place I could not support hosting it again.

If anyone believes that $2M will cover the costs of hosting the Super Bowl in 2015, next year, they, too, are fools. City Council intended to build up a fund of $4 to $6M over 6 years to cover the anticipated expenses. Everything from gas, to salaries, to vehicle use, to supplies has gone up. Then council became preoccupied with the Coyotes mess and was raped by the NHL to the tune of $25M a year for two years. The set aside fund never materialized.

Finally, this year Glendale crafted a bill to recapture its costs as a host city. The original figure requested was $4M and it watched as the bill was steadily watered down to $2M accepting that something was better than nothing.  In the meantime AZSTA, the Host Committee and the Bidwills came up with their own bill requesting $10M. It never made it to the Arizona House of Representatives’ floor for a vote. It died an ignominious death.

So where were they? Why didn’t AZSTA, the Host Committee and the Bidwills buck up and support Glendale? When their bill died did they just pick up their marbles and leave the fight? You bet they did. They view Glendale as a red-headed stepchild  – a child that doesn’t play well with others. After all, how dare Glendale not make its hotels bow to the pressure and cap their room rates? They blamed Glendale for not dictating terms to private hotel entities. They also claimed, falsely, that Glendale would not provide the necessary, stipulated parking needed for game day. Not true but in their view Glendale, quite simply, had become a pain in their butts.

Mayor Weiers and Vice Mayor Knaack publicly acknowledged at the April 22, 2014 council meeting that Glendale cannot continue to absorb the costs of hosting the Super Bowl without reimbursement. They made it quite clear that it is an unsustainable proposition. I applaud the fact that they have put everyone on notice and unless a reimbursement mechanism is created Glendale will not be in the business of hosting future Super Bowls. It’s about time. It’s nice to finally have some public company on this issue. Way to go Mayor Weiers and Vice Mayor Knaack. The ball is in AZSTA’s, the Host Committee’s and the Bidwill’s court. It’s their turn to play nicely and to acknowledge that Glendale is a valuable asset to them. After all, they can’t pick up their marbles (er, stadium) and go away, can they? Ironic, isn’t it? They may have cooked their golden goose.

© Joyce Clark, 2014

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

%d bloggers like this: