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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

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.

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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.

On October 2, 2014 Larry Brooks, a reporter for the New York Post, reported that a 51% interest in the Coyotes is in the process of being acquired by Andrew Barroway. Barroway is managing partner and founder of Merion Investment Management LP based in Radnor, PA. He is a failed suitor in the purchase of the Devils and Islanders.  At this point the story is speculation as neither the NHL nor the Coyotes’ owners have confirmed the deal. Here is the link: http://nypost.com/2014/10/02/spurned-islanders-buyer-to-purchase-coyotes-instead/. As an exercise, let’s speculate some more.

Why is Barroway acquiring a majority interest in the team? He wants to own a hockey team. That is evident in his two failed attempts. But he wants more than that. He wants to be in control and to make the ultimate and final decisions about the team’s fate at a future date. The team cannot and will not leave for 5 years. We can enjoy hockey in the Valley through the 2018-2019 season. After that you will need to consult your crystal ball.  Although I would expect that when the fans finally realize the team’s days may be numbered attendance will drop like a stone.

According to the agreement the team cannot leave for 5 hockey seasons and must demonstrate $50 million in operating losses. Here is the exact language in the management agreement: Section 3. Term. 3.3. Early Termination by Arena Manager/Team Owner. “Notwithstanding the other terms and provisions of this Agreement, Team Owner and Arena Manager jointly shall have the right to terminate this agreement without penalty or cost by delivery of written notice to the City at any time within 180 days following the end of the fifth (5th) hockey season year after the execution date if (a) neither terminating Party is in material default of any term or condition of this Agreement, and (b)Team Owner has incurred a cumulative Operating Loss of $50,000,000 or more, calculated as the sum of Team Owner’s operating income/loss for each the Fiscal Year periods then ended, provided that if such notice is given during any NHL hockey season, the termination shall not be effective until the end of the applicable hockey season, including all Home Games associated with the season. In this regard, Team Owner shall deliver to the City, not later than ninety (90) days following the end of each Fiscal Year, a statement (certified to the City by the Team Owner’s chief financial officer or the Team Owner’s certified public accountants, at the option of Team Owner) of the Team Owner’s claimed operating income or loss for such Fiscal Year, which statement shall be subject to audit by the City and the result f such audit shall thereafter be conclusive upon team Owner with respect to the determination of Operating Losses.” This exact same provision applies to the city as well.

The New York Post story cites the team loss in its first year of operation at $24 million. Educated rumors are that it’s on the low side and could be more. As long as we’re speculating, let’s peg their losses at $20 million a year. At the end of 5 years the team’s losses will be north of $100 million and will meet the terms of the agreement.  Barroway’s investment in the team now will cover those expected losses and he will be in the cat bird’s seat to decide the team’s future move.

Let’s wait to see if a majority interest is indeed sold to Barroway. That will deliver a strong message to everyone and you can then decide how much of an emotional investment you wish to make in the team. And just when we thought the Coyotes saga was closed…so it continues.

© Joyce Clark, 2014

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On September 9, 2014 at its regular council meeting the Glendale City Council approved a new name for its arena. It will now be known as the Gila River Arena. The following day there was a press conference to announce the name change. Anthony LeBlanc, one of the Coyotes’ owners was there; Gregory Mendoza, Governor of the Tribe was there; Jan Brewer, our state Governor was there; and Jerry Weiers, Mayor of Glendale was there.  Guess who wasn’t there? Our infamous “gang of four,” Councilmembers Alvarez, Sherwood, Hugh and Chavira. It’s perfectly understandable. After all, their allegiance is to the Tohono O’odham Nation. Alvarez was also the lone negative vote on the name change to Gila River. Instead she stubbornly questioned staff on the necessity of bringing the name change before council for ratification.  It appeared as if she questioned the action long enough and hard enough she could make the need for a council vote disappear. Didn’t happen. Apparently Norma’s love for minorities does not extend to the Gila River Community.

However, it’s not so strange a move. Gila River has been a long time partner of the Arizona Coyotes hosting the Gila River Club within the arena proper. If I were the Gila River I would be secretly smug and taking enormous satisfaction in the fact that their name will be prominently displayed across the street from their duplicitous sister tribe, the Tohono O’odham’s new casino.

Here’s a reminder that today, Wednesday, September 17, 2014 at 2:30 PM Eastern time, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs will have a legislative hearing on Senate bill 2670, Keep the Promise Act of 2014, introduced by Senators McCain and Flake. It can be viewed online live.  Panel One of the hearing will have Governor Mendoza of the Gila River Indian Community, Ned Norris Jr., Chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation, Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers and Glendale Councilmember Gary Sherwood. It should prove interesting as 2 champions of the casino face off against 2 opponents of the casino. Hopefully, the bill will move out of committee paving the way for a full senate vote.

Considering the fact that Glendale did not recoup its $14,002,055 (not a full fiscal year, prorated for 11 months) paid for the management fee and capital improvement fund and that you can add another $12 million for the arena construction debt, you would think Alvarez would welcome the new Gila River name and the 20% of the fee paid by Gila River to IceArizona. It will offset the approximately $20 million in arena costs, not by much, but every penny is welcome. A lot of Glendale’s residents are anxiously awaiting the audit of IceArizona’s budget and hope it is made public and put on the city’s website. If not, don’t be surprised if there are a lot of FOIA requests for a copy of the audit.

There was no council workshop on Tuesday, September 16, 2014 because there was not a quorum. How many of Glendale’s council is attending the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs legislative hearing today? I guess we’ll find out.

© 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.

20140812_193537The August 12, 2014 meeting of the Glendale City Council was like watching a train wreck in slow motion. You know the inevitable outcome; you know it will be extremely painful; but you are utterly powerless to stop it. All you can do is watch it unfold. This is the first council meeting I attended since leaving office over a year and a half ago. People have been telling me for months that the animosity among councilmembers was evident. I thought OK, there were times when our council meetings were not happy affairs. Little did I know that the atmosphere reeked of councilmember nastiness and disrespect. It was palpable fueled by the absolute arrogance of the council majority (Sherwood, Hugh, Alvarez and Chavira). The meeting was not unusual as council sped through proclamations and the consent agenda. The last two items were casino related. One was council approval of the draft agreement between the Tohono O’odham and Glendale. The other was the first official groveling of the city council with a resolution supporting the construction of the casino.  All hell broke loose. The draft agreement was introduced and recited by Michael Bailey, Glendale’s City Attorney. Mayor Weiers opened the public comment portion. There were 22 speakers to the item. 15 citizens spoke in opposition to the draft agreement and 7 spoke in favor of the draft agreement. The speakers’ comments in opposition to the proposed casino revolved around these general themes: casinos produce greater crime in the adjacent area; they create a greater rate of gambling addiction and subsequent bankruptcies and home foreclosures. The two major themes were comments about the rush to get this agreement done and the fact that it simply wasn’t a good deal for Glendale. There were some memorable comments to share (my apology if I butcher someone’s name). John Burnell of the Sahuaro district related that a family member, as a gambling addict, maxxed out credit cards and lied to keep it secret. The husband had to take two jobs and it took him over two years to get the family’s finances back on track. Barbara Roberts acknowledged the casino job creation but said, “Yes, we need jobs but what kind of jobs?” Timothy Green of Goodyear said, “Casinos only succeed on the backs of losers.” A rather profound statement. Ron Kolb, Ocotillo district said, “The West Side will never be the same.” Dr. Ron Rockwell, pastor of a Yucca district church very near the casino site, said, “You no longer care about the moral and spiritual culture of this community.” Randy Miller, candidate for the Barrel district council seat, called out Councilmember Alvarez and her continual homage about the importance of listening to the people…yeah, Norma, right. It seems to be a principle of hers only when convenient. Those speakers in support of the casino were arrogant and boastful. John Mendlelberg, former Mayor of Surprise, said, “You must concede.” Reverend Maupin of Phoenix, said, “You lost the war. You should be grateful for whatever you are getting.” He accused Councilmember Martinez of being a liar and a racist. Robert Quizneros of the Ocotillo district complained about the audacity of “the other side’s hiring of attorneys and lobbyists” to defeat the casino. A special “shout out” to Lauren Tolmachoff, candidate for the Cholla district council seat. It appears that she has become a one-trick pony as she reiterated her support for the casino in the name of jobs. Hey, Lauren, don’t you know about “job displacement?” Several pro-casino speakers kept referring to, “it’s their (TO) land.” Well, yes it is after a purchase kept secret for 7 years and its newly minted designation as a reservation. It’s all about a reservation WITHIN Glendale. I defy anyone to identify any city in the State of Arizona that has a reservation within its boundaries. Then it was time for the Councilmembers to speak prior to their vote. Alvarez’ remarks were priceless in their ignorance. She made memorable comments such as, “what’s the difference between a lottery ticket and a casino?” Or, “We have casinos in Scottsdale.” Or, “They (Tohono O’odham) are going to provide a service.” That one caused audible audience derision.  And lastly, “Make us responsible for what we’re doing.” Trust me, we will.   Councilmember Sherwood, self-proclaimed negotiator and leader, was strangely silent all evening except for his monologue prior to his affirmative vote. His comments deserve a special blog and its coming. Councilmember Martinez offered a series of amendments to the draft and that’s when all hell broke loose. Councilmembers Alvarez and Chavira, repeatedly and often, yelled out while Councilmember Martinez was trying to speak, “Call for the question!” Their obvious intent was to silence Councilmember Martinez’ efforts. What were they afraid of? They knew they had the votes to defeat any amendment. Chavira was literally in a rage because of Martinez’ efforts. He lept out of his seat and it looked as if he was about to confront Mayor Weiers physically. Wow, Sammy. Finally we see the true persona and your reaction when crossed and you don’t get your way. The lack of control he exhibited demonstrated that he is unfit to serve as a councilmember and cannot conduct himself in a manner required by the office he holds. Martinez offered 4 amendments: raising the TO payment to $20 million or 3% of the Class III net; offsite infrastructure costs to be paid by the TO up front; a waiver of sovereign immunity especially with regard to fraud and other bad acts; and payments to continue beyond 2026. Each was rejected. The vote was as everyone expected. The majority of 4 – Sherwood, Alvarez, Hugh and Chavira voting to approve the agreement and Weiers, Martinez and Knaack voting against. What was unexpected to the degree it manifested itself, was the vituperativeness and nastiness. At one point a citizen called Martinez a liar and a racist. Mayor Weiers should have stopped the speaker immediately and requested a police officer escort the person from the building. There is no doubt that Mayor Weiers lost control of the meeting during the first casino agenda item. His failure fueled the majority’s contempt and rage. Kudos go to Bonnie Steiger, a Glendale resident and faithful attendee at council meetings for 28 years. She is everyone’s Grandmother. She was so disgusted with council’s behavior that she said their lack of respect for the very office they hold merited the removal of all of them. Lastly, I offer two interesting items for your attention. One is the Coyotes publicly announced today that they had accepted a deal for arena naming rights. Are you ready for this? It will be called the Gila River Arena. Hooray for the Gila River. Although it may require Glendale approval, Glendale may only reject for very narrow reasons and the new naming rights do not fit the criteria. Can you say embarrassing, Glendale?? Or perhaps the majority of 4 will figure out a way to kill the deal. The second item is that just before 5 PM, yesterday, August 12, 2014 a group filed paperwork with the Glendale City Clerk’s office for a Political Action Committee for the purpose of recalling Councilmember Gary Sherwood. Things are heating up in Glendale. As I said at the beginning of this blog, this meeting was definitely a train wreck but the pain is yet to be borne by all of the people of Glendale. © 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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