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