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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

It has been 18 years and 23 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

Over the holidays there wasn’t much news about the Coyotes. Now that we are in a new year on January 7, Paul Giblin had a story in the Arizona Republic citing the results of a recent poll on the subject of a Coyotes relocation. Here is the link: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2016/01/07/poll-arizona-coyotes-should-stay-gila-river-arena-glendale/78314406/ . He reported, “Approximately 54 percent of frequent voters in Maricopa County surveyed believe the Coyotes should remain at Gila River Arena in Glendale, according to the poll that was conducted Dec. 29 for Phoenix-based public-relations firms MBQF Consulting and Marson Media.”

The problem for any other governmental agency attempting to locate the Coyotes will be to garner enough public support to pay for yet another very expensive sports facility. Thirteen years ago, in 2002, the cost to build the Gila River Arena was about $180 million dollars. The cost today to build the same type of facility has exploded. It is expected that the cost would be in the $400 million dollar range. The sixty four dollar question is can enough public support be generated in some other Valley community to use precious and scarce taxpayer dollars?

Public support would probably be found if the economy was booming and world affairs were stable. That is not the case. The economy staggers along as the middle class continues its death spiral. The general public fears more ISIS inspired events on our soil as the Middle East explodes into further turmoil while China’s stock market takes a dive and North Korea’s bomb tests reminds us that we, as a nation, are vulnerable. This is not an environment that is conducive for public sentiment to use taxpayer dollars on yet another sports facility.

Anthony LeBlanc, one of the Coyotes’ owners and apparent Public Information Officer, has had to walk back some of his previous assertions about the Coyotes.  He has hired a sports consultancy firm to assist him in his quest for a new location. It seems likely that a location in any other Valley municipality will be very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve. His only hope may be can he cut a deal for another new facility funded and built by the Gila River Pima Maricopa Indian Community? His refusal to bid for management of the Gila River Arena may come back to haunt him.

Which leads to another bit of recent news. The City of Glendale received 3 bids to manage its Gila River Arena submitted by AEG Facilities, Spectra by Comcast Spectacor and SMG. All three are “big guns” in the sports management business. All have the experience and knowledge required to successfully manage Glendale’s arena. Currently the bids are TOP SECRET. In the next few weeks Glendale’s senior management staff and city council will each receive separate briefings regarding the specifics of each proposed bid. This management deal is more complicated because the Coyotes will play in the arena for another season and it is expected the chosen management company contract would begin this July 1, 2016. That means that the preferred management company and the Coyotes would have to negotiate revenue streams for one year of Coyotes occupancy. There is always the remote possibility that a deal could be crafted comfortable enough for the Coyotes to create an incentive for them to stay at the Gila River Arena beyond their final year.

The city council may be ready to vote on an arena manager as early as February 9, 2016. If a vote is not taken around that date expect that one of the bids is in further negotiation before final acceptance. The public, as is the case with mushrooms, will be left in the dark and fed horse manure. There is no opportunity for public input in this process. While everyone understands the theory of representative government they also understand the theory of transparency. It seems that once again “father knows best” trumps the public’s right to know.

© Joyce Clark, 2016

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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 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.

It has been 17 years and 336 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

It seems that Thanksgiving got in the way of much blog writing recently. I hope your Thanksgiving Day with family and friends was enjoyable. I hope you ate too much, laughed too much and watched too much football.

It was announced that the Coyotes hired Mitchell Ziets, CEO of Tipping Point Sports, LLC, to assist in an exploration of options for the team including a move to another venue from the Gila River Arena in Glendale. Let’s explore the reality of this option.

In a November 2, 2015 story by Craig Morgan several possible venues are offered for consideration by the Coyotes. Here is the link: http://arizonasports.com/story/436156/coyotes-in-discussions-with-at-least-three-separate-groups-for-new-valley-arena/ .

In his story Morgan offers this comment from Anthony LeBlanc, “At some point you have to make a decision that you can’t continue to talk to a wall, Coyotes co-owner, president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc said. You have to accept reality and look at what your alternatives are. That’s where we are right now.” From the time LeBlanc’s group, IceArizona, commenced its deal with Glendale for the use of its arena the Coyotes simply refused to talk to and to share information with Glendale. They were decidedly off the reservation. It has only been since the new, two-year deal was inked that IceArizona has decided to play nice with Glendale.

IceArizona may very well leave Gila River Arena in two years but options to play elsewhere in the Valley are more limited than current speculation would lead one to believe. LeBlanc admits to “conversations” with Phoenix about the possibility of a shared arena with the Phoenix Suns. Out of curiosity I checked the 2015-2016 playing schedules for both teams. Here are some comparisons:

                                                            Phoenix Suns                 Arizona Coyotes

Season                                                10/28/2015-4/13/2016     10/9/2015-4/13/2016

Number of total games                                     82                                        82

Number of home games                                   40                                        41

Out of the 40+ plus home games each team plays at its current venue, if they currently played at the same shared venue, 12 playing dates would conflict. That is ¼ or 25% of their home games. To be fair, we know that can be remedied by the leagues with a gnashing of teeth and the pulling of hair. It has worked before when the Coyotes and Suns shared a venue. One would think the Coyotes fans have warm memories of their experiences in sharing a venue with the Suns and are eagerly looking forward to do so again.

In a recent December 2, 2015 Paul Giblin story in the Arizona Republic, he cites issues that Phoenix would have to consider. Here is the link: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2015/12/02/arizona-coyotes-arizona-cardinals-wont-bid-manage-glendale-gila-river-arena/76564718/ .

  •  How much would a new arena cost? The Milwaukee Bucks’ planned new arena is pegged at $500 million.
  • How much would be privately funded? How much publicly funded? Would the public-funding source be municipal, state or some combination?
  • Can voters be sold on the idea of picking up any portion of the bill?
  • Where specifically would an arena be built?
  • When would it open?
  • Can the Suns and Coyotes work out an agreement to split revenues?

Let’s look at other possible venues. Tempe and/or Scottsdale are possible candidates. Would the voters of Tempe and/or Scottsdale approve the construction of a $180 million dollar building (cost of Gila River Arena construction in 2005) and agree to subsidize, year after year, a team that is not profitable? Remember those who do not read history are doomed to repeat it. I would think many voters would be very aware of Glendale’s history and that could certainly cause them to think twice about such a proposal.

Arizona State University has been mentioned as well. ASU receives substantial funding from the Arizona State Legislature. It is conceivable that a majority of legislators may balk at the idea of state taxpayer money being used to subsidize a for-profit company.  If ASU can fund and subsidize such a project with new, private dollars and not divert private dollars already committed for existent programs then it is possible. But wait, didn’t ASU Hockey just commit to playing its games at Gila River Arena? If that is the case, wouldn’t ASU have to build a new venue?

The last location on the menu of possibles is Talking Stick. That is certainly do-able. An Indian reservation is not subject to federal, state, county or local laws. The tribe is free to build what it wants to build on reservation land.  One has to wonder if this tribe would be willing to invest in the construction of another major venue as well as subsidizing the team in perpetuity.

There was an interesting article published on October 20,2015 by the Flordia’s Sun Sentinel regarding the NHL Florida Panthers and a Broward County proposed deal. Here is the link: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/fl-panthers-subsidy-debate-20151020-story.html .

In some ways their deal is like comparing apples and oranges for Broward County has a population of 1.87 million people and includes 24 cities. That in itself is much different from Glendale’s population of approximately 240,000 and the fact that it is one city having to deal with a hockey arena. Some elements of their proposed deal are eerily similar to the Glendale/Coyotes deal. As of this date their deal has yet to be approved but here are some of the deal points which would expire in 2028:

  • The Panthers would continue making $5.3 million annual debt payments toward the county’s $15.3 million obligation.
  • Receive $86 million from the county, or $6.6 million a year on average, but in a schedule of front-loaded payments that starts at $12 million a year. Of the total, $39 million must be used for capital expenses at the arena, $45.5 million for operating expenses like paying the electric bill or property insurance, and $1.5 million to lure a “high impact event.”
  • Provide an irrevocable letter of credit to protect the county’s financial investment if the team defaults, files bankruptcy or relocates.
  • Grant the county development rights on land surrounding the arena, where a mixed-use entertainment complex could be considered.
  • Share proceeds with the county if the NHL expands between 2015 and 2021 and gives teams expansion proceeds. After the Panthers’ losses are covered, the county would get the remainder of the one-time expansion payment.
  • Give the county 10 percent of profits if the team, made more valuable by this new deal, were sold.
  • Give the county authority to approve where the money for capital projects is spent, and authority to replace the Panthers’ Arena Operating Company with another arena manager if needed.
  • Allow the Panthers to get out of the contract in eight years if it’s not working out. They’d have to give a year’s notice, show losses of $100 million over seven years, and pay a termination amount. For example, if the Panthers leave in year 8, they’d pay back the full $72 million the county would have given them by then.

No matter where the Coyotes end up in the Valley, whether they remain in Glendale or move to another location, their quest to be subsidized by a governmental entity is surely a public policy question deserving of much public discussion. The people of any city have a right to weigh in on the question of their tax dollars being used to subsidize a private, for-profit company.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

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 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.

It has been 17 years and 235 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

On Tuesday, August 25, 2015 the Glendale city council will go into executive session. One of its topics is sure to be council’s setting of goals for and approval of a Request for Proposal (RFP) for future management of Glendale’s arena. It is a good move.

An RFP will provide information on what is the fair market value for management of its arena. The previous RFP yielded results that indicated that a fair management fee was in the $6 million dollars per year range. Those results can lead to a totally independent firm managing the arena and removing that responsibility from the Coyotes. It sets up a scenario that has the Coyotes as tenants only.

One area that will have to be resolved is that of the parking fees. Apparently under the temporary 2 year agreement the Coyotes continue to keep parking and ticket surcharge revenues. Why? These schemes…for that’s what they were…were created specifically to generate revenue for the city. They were designed to reimburse the city for the $15M a year it was paying as a management fee.

The  amount generated was approximately $8-$9M a year, not enough to cover the $15M annual management fee. Ticket surcharge revenues had always gone to the city even before the latest agreement with IceArizona. In all previous agreements there had been an escalator clause that incrementally raised the surcharge annually.

Whether the arena manager is a new entity or the Coyotes, it’s time to deal with these surcharges to the benefit of the city. Either parking is once again free as it had been before IceArizona or the parking revenue, if utilized, should go to the city. The same can be said of the ticket surcharge…either it goes away entirely or the revenue goes to the city. If the surcharges were to go to the city and the city continues to pay a $6M annual management fee it is possible that the city may actually cover that annual cost and perhaps generate some revenue to be used for the benefit of Glendale’s citizens. Now, that’s a nice thought, isn’t it? Glendale’s taxpayers have been subsidizing the arena for quite some time. It would be wonderful if the arena actually made some money. It’s time for the city to play hard ball and to stop giving away the farm.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

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.

It has been 17 years and 193 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

I am about to do a commercial. No, not for Willie Wonka but for John Oliver. Who is he, do you say? Don’t feel dumb. I didn’t know who he is either. He is a comedian on HBO with a show entitled “Last Week Tonight.” Here is the link to one of his latest efforts: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Stadiums (HBO) – YouTube .

I want to thank ‘Me’ and a friend, both of whom sent me the link to his monologue on sports stadiums. He cracked me up and if you watch you may share my opinion. I’m going to watch previous episodes and make sure I watch from now on.

He may be a comedian but he and his production team do a lot of research and interspersed among the jokes are big, fat, fact bombs. He described today’s stadiums as thFYHUH64Abeing designed by “a coked up Willy Wonka” as he pointed out that the Marlins have an aquarium behind home plate and Dallas has a suspended swimming pool within its stadium. He said that in the past 20 years $12 billion dollars has been spent on 51 stadiums in the United States. He alluded to the often used statement by team owners that they cannot afford to build a stadium on their dime. Yet they will not share their financial books to provide a modicum of truth to the statement. He went on to say that owners monetize every part of the stadium and do not revenue share with taxpayers who foot the bill for constructing these stadiums. These owners keep the revenue on such items as naming rights, concession sales tax and luxury suite sales.

John Oliver even introduced Glendale into the picture at the 13 minute, 59 second mark. He highlighted that Glendale had cancelled their arena contract and the mayor and councilmembers have been virtually pilloried for doing so by showing the segment where a Coyotes fan tazed the mayor for a charity event.

Oliver is funny and he manages to use his brand of comedy to teach some basic facts about his topic of choice. Please join me in giving this guy a spin, kick his tires and check under his hood. We might learn something new in the process.

 © Joyce Clark, 2015

 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.

It has been 17 years and 158 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

At 6 PM on Wednesday, June 10, 2015 the Glendale city council will meet to consider and vote upon an action to cancel the current Lease Management Agreement with IceArizona. Here is the only item on the agenda:

“DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION TO DIRECT THE CITY MANAGER AND CITY ATTORNEY TO CANCEL THE PROFESSIONAL MANAGEMENT SERVICES AND ARENA LEASE AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE CITY OF GLENDALE AND ICEARIZONA MANAGER CO., LLC AND ICEARIZONA HOCKEY CO., LLC, PURSUANT TO ARIZONA REVISED STATUTES § 38-511, AND TO PURSUE ANY AND ALL OTHER LEGAL ACTIONS AND REMEDIES NECESSARY TO EFFECTUATE CANCELLATION OR TERMINATION OF THE AGREEMENT.”

There are rumors flying furiously on Twitter, Facebook, etc. speculating on the reason for the possible cancellation. That’s all they are…rumors. I can affirm that the reason has nothing to do with the infamous audit or the brough ha ha over naming rights. I have agreed to not say anything further until after the council meeting.

Don’t expect Councilmember Sherwood to be at this meeting or call in. Apparently he will be in Salt Lake City tomorrow. How convenient especially if the deal he brokered blows up. His pals (Chavira and Aldama), or as all three call themselves, the “Tres Amigos” (I like Three Stooges better), will have to vote without their “jefe” to keep them in line. Oh oh…

Bring your seat cushions for tomorrow night’s meeting folks. Expect it to be a long one with every possible Coyote fan in attendance reiterating over and over again how stupid this council is. Has it occurred to anyone that they couldn’t be that stupid if they have discovered a way out of the current contract?

You will see the agenda item makes specific reference to Arizona Revised Statutes § 38-511. I suggest anyone that is interested in this issue take the time to read it.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

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.

It has been 17 years and 107 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

USA Today photo

Andrew Barroway, Anthony LeBlanc Courtesy USA Today

On December 31, 2014 we were greeted with an announcement released by Coyotes Co-Owner, President and CEO Anthony LeBlanc, “Today is an exciting day for the Arizona Coyotes and our great fans. The addition of Andrew Barroway to our ownership group further solidifies the Coyotes long-term future in the Valley. Our entire ownership group is excited about this opportunity to work with Andrew in taking this franchise to the next level. It’s a great day for hockey in Arizona!” Here is the link: http://heatwaved.com/2014/12/31/andrew-barroway-approved-buy-arizona-coyotes/ .

We were told that Andrew Barroway’s purchase made him majority owner of the team holding 51%. The deal was praised as a means of creating financial stability for the team and some of the money would be used to raise payroll. Barroway said, “he and the nine minority owners were committed to infusing $30 million back into the team, with up to $9 million going directly to upgrading the on-ice product through trades and free agency.” As majority owner, Barroway would be the team governor, current governor George Gosbee would be alternate governor, and Anthony LeBlanc would remain as chief executive officer.

Two days later, on January 2, 2015 Craig Morgan of Fox Sports News interviewed Barroway. Here is the link: http://www.foxsports.com/arizona/story/q-a-with-coyotes-majority-owner-andrew-barroway-010215 . Morgan asked Barroway how active he would be as the new owner. Barroway indicated that he planned to be an active owner and would take part in all major decisions regarding the team. Morgan also asked if there would be any major changes and Barroway responded that he didn’t expect any.

th6FIKDB1J

Where’s Waldo?

That was 4 months ago. So where’s Waldo? Er, Andrew Barroway? Sources inside Glendale City Hall indicate that Barroway, as the  majority owner of the team, has not signed the lease management contract. At the very least, that should have occurred after the Board of Governors approved the sale to Barroway on December 31, 2014. Does Barroway’s absence from the team scene and Gila River Arena plus a lease management contract without Barroway’s signature signal trouble with the deal? At the last game of the season the Coyotes distributed their annual book replete with statistics, photos and bios of everyone (except God) including the owners minus any mention or photo of Andrew Barroway. It makes you scratch your head and ask what’s going on.

thDYDNS84PThere’s another Where’s Waldo moment…the failure of the Coyotes to submit a certified financial team audit to the City of Glendale as stipulated in the lease management agreement. It was due September 30, 2014…7 months ago. In anticipation of receiving the audit the city hired Tony Tavares in December of 2014 to perform the city’s audit.

Peter Corbett of the Arizona Republic in an April 17, 2015 article offered some very interesting comments from principals involved. Here is the link: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2015/04/17/glendale-arizona-coyotes-first-season-audit-drags/25922095/ . He reported that:

  • “Coyotes officials said the reports were late because it was the organization’s first year of operations under the new deal and more complications surfaced when a new majority owner acquired the team at the end of last year.”
  • “The financial-reporting delay has created tensions with Glendale officials who are frustrated that the team has not closed the books on its first season even as the second season wrapped up April 11 on the ice at Gila River Arena.”
  • “Ian Hugh, Glendale vice mayor, said the Coyotes must be held accountable for the money the team is taking from taxpayers. ‘I expect both sides to live up to our agreement,’ he said. ‘Our auditor is still trying to get information from the Coyotes’.”
  • “Jeff Shumway, Coyotes CEO from 2006-09, said that during his tenure the team typically completed its audits by November. The audit reports were public documents that were available to anyone who made a records request to Glendale, he said.”
  • “The current Coyotes arena-management agreement includes language that requires the city to protect the team’s proprietary information.”

What’s so “proprietary” about an audited financial statement of profit and loss submitted to the City of Glendale that shouldn’t be a public record? After all, Glendale’s taxpayers are paying $15 million dollars a year. You would think we would be entitled.

The team’s financial audit wasn’t “proprietary” when Steve Ellman and/or Jerry Moyes owned the team. Did LeBlanc fudge in his public statements about the team’s losses? Who knows? Apparently we, the public, the taxpayers of Glendale and the fans supporting the team with ticket sales, will never know the truth. Former President Ronald Reagan said, “Trust but verify.” LeBlanc and company want all of us to trust but at the same time they don’t seem to want us to verify.

Questions remain unanswered…Where is Waldo? Where is Andrew Barroway and where is the certified team financial audit? There are answers but we are not getting them.

Post Script: Today is the NHL Draft Lottery. Coyotes placed third in lottery line up. Anthony LeBlanc tweeting a good face on the situation…but Where’s Waldo?

© Joyce Clark, 2015

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.

It has been 17 years and 95 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

For 4 years, from the time Jerry Moyes declared the team bankrupt in 2009 until the end of 2012, as a councilmember I was part of the high drama surrounding the Arizona Coyotes and the arena, a city owned facility. Suitors to buy the team came and went with regularity. The city paid the NHL $25 million a year to manage the arena while everyone desperately hunted for a new owner. In 2013 a new city council was seated and promptly approved the current management agreement of $15 million dollars paid annually to IceArizona, the new owners of the team. If truth be told that $15 million goes directly to Fortress Lending and the NHL as interest payments on the IceArizona’s purchase debt owed by LeBlanc, Gosbee, and et.al. If you remember the cash raised for the team purchase was approximately $45 million. The rest of the purchase price of $170 million was strictly debt. Today Andrew Barroway is the majority owner (51%) of the team.

A recent article on March 30, 2015, by Mike Sunnucks of the Phoenix Business Journal entitled Could the Phoenix Suns, city build a new arena at Phoenix Convention Center site? It is intriguing to say the least. Sunnucks reports on speculation about where the Phoenix Suns will be playing its games in the future, “ ‘US Airways Center is owned by the city of Phoenix and the Suns lease doesn’t expire until 2029’, according to city spokeswoman Deb Ostreicher. The Suns could look to the city for renovations of the downtown arena or could look for a new home.” Sunnucks goes on to say, “One scenario being talked about — at least in real estate and downtown Phoenix circles — is a new arena being built where the current South Building of the Phoenix Convention Center is on Jefferson and Third streets. That is the oldest convention center building and is a block away from the Suns’ current arena.”

Granted all of this is extremely speculative but there is the possibility of the Phoenix owned US Airways Center becoming vacant if Phoenix and the Suns decide to build a new arena at the site of the south building of the convention center. Take it a step further and it is not outside the realm of possibility that Phoenix would attempt to lure the Arizona Coyotes to a newly renovated and vacant US Airways Center with better sight lines for hockey patrons.

Think about it. Since purchasing the team two years ago IceArizona has consistently lost money due to many factors. One of those factors has always been fan complaints about trekking out to Glendale for the games. Many in the East Valley as well as from other locations such as Tucson simply choose not to make the trip. A more centrally located arena in downtown Phoenix has a certain appeal for many.

One wonders if it appeals to Barroway. Today, 2015, the Glendale arena is 12 years old, having opened in December of 2003. In another 3 years, by 2018, the arena will be 15 years old and the Coyotes will have the available option of moving due to the opt out clause any time thereafter. One of Barroway’s imperatives is to keep the team viable over the next 3 years until some major decisions are made.

In 8 years, by 2023, the arena will be 20 years old and in need of major renovation and upgrades. In the meantime, if Barroway and the City of Phoenix worked out a deal regarding US Airways it could solve one persistent fan complaint by relocating to a more convenient and centralized location. It would certainly fulfill the owners’ mantra of “here to stay”…just not in Glendale.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

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.

Make no mistake. The team has a new owner…Andrew Barroway. Below is the press release on the Arizona Coyotes website with the announcement:

NHL Approves Agreement for Andrew Barroway to Become Majority Owner of the Coyotes

Wednesday, 12.31.2014 / 10:16 PM

Arizona Coyotes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, December 31, 2014

GLENDALE, ARIZONA — The National Hockey League (NHL) and the Arizona Coyotes announced today that an agreement for IceArizona to sell 51 percent of the Arizona Coyotes franchise to Andrew Barroway has been finalized by the NHL’s Board of Governors. Barroway will serve as the Coyotes Chairman and Governor immediately.

‘This is truly a dream come true for me and my family,’ said Barroway. ‘I am extraordinarily grateful for the opportunity of a lifetime and look forward to working and solidifying a strong partnership with the Club’s current ownership group.

‘As a group we are committed to serving our fans with a new level of excellence and our collective goal is to put a competitive team on the ice every season and, one day, win the Stanley Cup.’

‘Today is an exciting day for the Arizona Coyotes and our great fans.’ said Coyotes Co-Owner, President and CEO Anthony LeBlanc. ‘The addition of Andrew Barroway to our ownership group further solidifies the Coyotes long-term future in the Valley. Our entire ownership group is excited about this opportunity to work with Andrew in taking this franchise to the next level. It’s a great day for hockey in Arizona!’

Andrew Barroway is the Managing Partner of Merion Investment Management LP, an event driven hedge fund that currently manages more than $1 billion. Merion was founded in January 2009. Barroway graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1991.”

Andrew Barroway is the new owner of the team. A simple analogy is this. You can no longer afford to make the mortgage payment on your house. You get your uncle to buy 51% of the value of your home. Then you decide you want to repaint and recarpet your house but your uncle says, “No.” Who prevails? Your uncle, of course. He is the majority owner.

It’s the same with the team. Rumors abound that the Gosbee/LeBlanc group have been missing their cash calls. Missing a cash call means that the ownership group (prior to Barroway) refused to use personal funds to cover losses. This probably made the NHL (Commissioner Bettman and the other team owners) very, very nervous. No wonder Bettman worked so hard to find another investor for the team.

One has only to look at this photo to see how thrilled George Gosbee and Anthony LeBlanc are to relinquish control of the team. While it is an old photo it reflects what each must have felt. Each looks as if their dog died.

image1

Photo credit: Matt Kartozian, USA Today Sports via Five for Howling by Brendan Porter

 

The minority owners have no choice but to put a ‘good face’ on the situation. LeBlanc’s mantra was Barroway’s purchase “further solidifies the Coyotes long-term future in the Valley.” Barroway offered “our collective goal is to put a competitive team on the ice every season and, one day, win the Stanley Cup.” Barroway’s function over the next few years will be to shore up the team financially and to cover those pesky cash calls.

On Friday, January 2, 2015 there was a press conference at the Gila River Arena to introduce Barroway to the Arizona fan base. (By the way with the name change to Gila River Arena, why does the very top of the arena, seen in aerial views, still say Jobing.com?) The presser was interesting on many levels. Anthony LeBlanc made several rather telling comments. In terms of a sale of the majority interest to Barroway, “we (the ownership group) weren’t looking for this.” They might not have been looking for it but it appears that Bettman and company most certainly were. He also confirmed that the sale consummated on the last day of 2014 “offers tax advantages for 2014.” The best face LeBlanc could offer was that the sale provides “financial flexibility.” Don Mahoney, the team’s General Manager, confirmed the importance of the sale to Barroway by saying, “we (the team) are solvent” and the sale provides “(financial) stability for long term success.”

It is no secret that Barroway has been trying to acquire a hockey team for years. Witness his attempts with the Philadelphia 76ers, the New Jersey Devils and the New York Islanders. In his case, the 4th time is a charm or as Barroway put it, “keep trying and don’t quit.” With regard to his relationship with the City of Glendale Barroway praised the “strong partnership” with the city. It seems the strong partnership is the $15 million a year the city pays the team. Le Blanc and Barroway reiterated that they are “committed to be here.”When asked about the “out clause” in the current Glendale/IceArizona deal, Barroway casually confirmed “the out clause remains in place.” As long as that option remains so will the speculation about a move after 5 years of losses. If Barroway is truly committed to keeping the team in the Valley working with Glendale to remove that stipulation would scotch the notion once and for all but don’t hold your breath. Barroway emphasized that he will be “very involved in all major decisions” and that “the buck stops with me.” LeBlanc painfully agreed by saying Barroway “wears the crown” as the majority owner of the team.

Just as every Coyotes fan, I desperately want Barroway and the team to succeed for that insures the team in Glendale for a very long time. An integral part of that scenario is constantly building a strong and ever growing fan base. That is difficult to do in today’s climate. Everyone, especially a fan base, loves a winner…a loser, not so much. The team’s performance is in a state of flux as older, experienced players are replaced with young, unproven new faces as part of a rebuilding cycle. The only star player the team will probably retain over the long haul is Shane Doan and he can’t do it alone. The financial bleeding will diminish when the team’s performance proves to be a consistent game winner.

What does the future hold for the Arizona Coyotes? Only Andrew Barroway knows and he’s not telling. Remember there is an option in the Glendale/IceArizona deal that the team can move after demonstrating 5 years of loss. Barroway, first and foremost, is a smart businessman. While he expects losses he also expects those losses to diminish over time as he works to build a more competitive and winning team. Only Andrew Barroway will decide if the team’s future includes a move to a more profitable locale with the financial resources to build his dream team that wins the Stanley Cup. We all hope that the dream of a Stanley Cup includes Glendale, Arizona. We all hope that is Barroway’s dream as well.

© 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.

Sadly, real life should not be played like a Monopoly game although it often is, especially in politics. Horse trading deals seem to be a way of life for many politicians.  Councilmember Gary Sherwood penned a My Turn article entitled, Barrett is wrong, Franks is right: Casino means trouble for the Arizona Republic on April 20, 2013. Eighteen months ago he said:

    •  “Tohono O’odham’s massive casino is too close to residences and schools.”
    • “It denies tens of million (sic) of dollars of future development, construction and sales-tax revenues to our state and local community.”
    • “The casino will have a massive impact on Glendale’s already overwhelmed infrastructure – our police and fire departments and our roads — forever.”
    • “Crime is already up. Does anyone believe that putting a mega-casino in a neighborhood will improve the situation?”
    • “Franks is doing the right thing, and he is not alone.”
    • “The tribe has disregarded our city’s well-being and wishes for years. Now we should simply trust them?”
    • “Sadly, the Tohono O’odham Nation deliberately misled the public and even other tribal nations about this project and their casino-expansion plans for years. What kind of community leaders would willingly welcome such an unwelcome kind of neighbor?”                           

What caused Sherwood to do his flip-flop? Eighteen months ago Gary Sherwood was opposed to the Tohono O’odham casino. Sherwood has been asked repeatedly why he changed from anti-casino to pro-casino. His answers have been all over the place from, I was misinformed by others to Glendale staffers didn’t do their homework.

On September 17, 2014 Gary Sherwood testified at the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. In his testimony he said, “I was stunned to learn that the prior Glendale administration had failed to make any effort to learn more about this proposal before it rushed to oppose it.” When questioned further by Senator McCain on his change of stance he said, “Umm, when I campaigned I had campaigned against this proposed based on information I had and I had read deal…quite a bit of information on it. Umm, the thing that was distressing to me though, that in the very beginning there was a half hour conversation when the city first found out about it in April of 2009 and that was the only conversation the previous administration had and I was, was always quite upset by the fact that we didn’t have the dialogue.” His reasons for changing his position are not only weak but mainly fantasy.

The city first learned of the casino project in January of 2009 when the TO simultaneously issued a press release and appeared at City Hall to reveal their plans. City staffers tried mightily at several subsequent meetings to get meaningful information from the Tohono O’odham about their plans. The TO repeatedly offered their conceptual plans but offered no concrete facts about their proposed project.  They were arrogant and their position was that they were coming and there was nothing the city could do. If Sherwood couldn’t get the date correct about Glendale’s learning of the TO’s plans, how many other statements of his that day played fast and loose with the facts?

His reasons for doing a 180 on his casino position should not be considered as satisfactory. Sherwood’s position remained opposed until the fall of 2013 when at several city council workshops he suddenly supported Alvarez, Hugh and Chavira in their call for “dialogue” with the Tohono O’odham. What other dynamic could have occurred?

Gary Sherwood and Sammy Chavira took office as councilmembers in January of 2013. Sammy ran on his opposition to the casino deals that had been presented to the city prior to his taking office. He said in an October, 2013 campaign mailing, ““Too many sweetheart arena deals for out-of-state corporations have left us deeply in debt.” Sammy outdid himself in supporting not just an out-of-state corporation sweetheart arena deal but out-of-country owners (mostly Canadian) sweetheart deal. He was opposed to any proposed casino deal. He went on to say publicly and repeatedly, “The city needs to be a tough negotiator, making smart planning decisions that preserve Glendale’s future.” Sammy, while running, was in no mood to accept any Coyotes deal. Inexplicably, after 6 months in office he becomes the 4th (and majority) vote to accept the IceArizona deal. Sherwood becomes the 4th councilmember (a majority) to support a dialogue with the TO after 8 months into his term. Coincidence? You must decide for yourselves. Did these councilmembers play a game of Monopoly?

© 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.

Today, October 8, 2014 is a grey, overcast day in the Phoenix metro area…a rarity to be sure. Anywhere else it would portend a day of steady rain but Phoenix is a desert and because it looks like rain, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will happen. It’s a good day to let thoughts rumble around.

A blog reader recently sent me two news stories of interest. One is from the October 5, 2014 Seattle Times entitled Key Arena turns a bigger profit than it ever did with the Sonics by Ashley Scoby. Here is the link: http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2024708723_keyarena05xml.html. The other is a Deadspin article entitled The Coyotes were damned close to moving to Seattle by Barry Petchesky dated October 8, 2014. Here is the link: http://deadspin.com/the-coyotes-were-damned-close-to-moving-to-seattle-1643791488 . Each article compliments the other.

In the Deadspin story three sources confirm that the Coyotes were a hair’s breadth from moving to Seattle. Ray Bartoszek and Anthony Lanza had formed a buyers’ group with plans to move the Coyotes to Seattle’s Key Arena the day following the Glendale City Council vote on the IceArizona arena management agreement if it had failed to gain approval. The new information in the story is confirmation that the NHL had blessed the scheme. Everyone knew how imminent the move could be….the NHL knew; the presumed buyers had moving trucks on standby; Glendale senior management knew; the Glendale City Council knew; and IceArizona knew. The only ones in the dark were Glendale residents.

Which leads to the second news story about Seattle’s Key Arena. Everyone presumed in 2009 without the Sonics as an anchor tenant the arena would die a pitiful death. How wrong. An average annual loss to Seattle with the Sonics was $1.5 million. In 2013, without the Sonics, the arena generated $1.2 million in profit. The loss of the team didn’t hurt for it opened up more desirable dates for performing artists to utilize the arena. Artists such as Kanye West, Rihanna, Maroon 5 and Bruno Mars performed at the Key in 2013.

I had always supported keeping a professional sports team at the Gila River Hockey Arena because it was my belief that the arena and Westgate could not survive without one. Seattle’s Key Arena disproves that belief. If the Coyotes arena management agreement had failed on that fateful July, 2013 day Glendale would have moved on, just as Seattle did. Glendale would have joined with an AEG-type partner and could have enjoyed the same kind of success that we see today at Seattle’s Key Arena.

P.S. Here’s a link to yet another Seattle Times news story about an almost move to Seattle: http://seattletimes.com/html/hockey/2024716050_seattlenhl07xml.html#.VDWTTHFMEBI.twitter

© 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.

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