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
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