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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

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

There is more practical and factual information that comprised Glendale’s business decision to decline to renew the agreement with the Coyotes.

Perhaps the most important reason driving Glendale’s decision is the fact that the 18-year-old arena is due for face lift. If you have attended a game at the Cardinals Stadium, you would be aware that for the past few years the Cardinals and AZSTA have invested in upgrading the stadium making a more comfortable and accessible fan experience. The stadium these days is truly amazing, and the fans love the new look and the new accommodations.

The city is planning for the future of the arena. Should it renovate the arena to accommodate the Coyotes’ fan experience when Alex Meruelo is insistent on a short-term lease arrangement of 3 to 5 years? Does that make sense? Where is the cost benefit to the city in doing so? There is none. 

With the Coyotes gone and a renewed emphasis on concerts and other events over the next 20 years, the configuration of the arena can be designed to accommodate the concert and event goers experience. In other words, the arena upgrades would be designed one way for sports fans and a totally different way for concert and event attendees.

That is why when the city began to negotiate with the Coyotes ownership a year ago its goal was to obtain a long-term lease of 18 to 20 years. If the city were to upgrade the arena to accommodate fans it needed the assurance of a long-term lease. Unfortunately, the ownership group made clear that they were only interested in a 3-to-5-year lease time frame.

Decisions regarding an upgrade to the arena are critical. That is why Glendale did not make its decision regarding the Coyotes agreement lightly and without consulting our partners and stakeholders or looking critically at the economic facts.

Another reason is related to historical revenue sharing agreements with every Coyotes ownership group. To retain the team and to assist with their financial viability, the Coyotes retain nearly all of the revenue generated by games. The team historically has kept all the revenue earned from naming rights for the arena and parking revenues. Their rental payment was extremely generous and arguably one of the best deals in the country.

The Applied Economics study says per capita, the Coyotes generate $28 per game in spending as opposed to a concert where the per capita is $58 and another event per capita is $35. Coyotes’ fans tend to stay inside the arena and buy food, etc., within it. Due to the Coyotes revenue sharing agreements, the city earns very little revenue on purchases inside the arena and none on parking or naming rights. On the other hand, concert and event attendees often dine in Westgate before a concert or event or may book an overnight stay at a Westgate hotel. There are no revenue constraints and therefore the tax revenues earned by the city are greater.

I’ve related why Westgate and the city have come of age. Both entities see an even more exciting future ahead. Reliance upon the Coyotes to keep Westgate financially viable is no longer a reality. I’ve also related the history of the Coyotes ownerships. A turnover of 6 different entities with differing agendas and a historical lack of partnership with the city made the situation extremely difficult during the past 18 years.

The decision to decline renewal of the agreement was a reasoned one based upon sound economic data and the need to make critical decisions regarding the arena’s future use.  Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner, still believes our decision is strictly a negotiating ploy to get more money from any deal. Someone should be whispering in his ear that nothing could be further from reality. The city’s decision is final. I wish the Coyotes much luck and success in their future endeavors.

There is one more thought that I want to share, and it is this. Over 18 years the City of Glendale has demonstrated, with financial investments, its commitment to keeping the Coyotes in the State of Arizona. We invested $185 million in the construction of the arena. For goodness’ sake, we paid the NHL $50 million to keep the Coyotes in Arizona while it searched for a new owner. Over the 18 years the city has invested about $307 million keeping the Coyotes in Arizona — with no help…from the state, the county or any other entity in the region. We did it alone. We put skin in the game – literally.

As Arizona Republic sports columnist Kent Somers said, When is the last time you heard of a city kicking a sports franchise out of the house?”

© Joyce Clark, 2021       

FAIR USE NOTICE

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

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

The very first owner of the Coyotes to land in Glendale was Steve Ellman. Ellman bought the team from Richard Burke in 2001. How did Ellman end up in Glendale for he dearly wanted to be in Scottsdale? When Scottsdale rejected the idea, Ellman went shopping, looking for cheap land for his grand vision of a hockey arena to be surrounded by commercial/retail to compliment the arena. I remember at the time, early 2000s, staff indicated to city council that they wanted to show Ellman the old Valley West Mall parcel at 59th Avenue and Northern Avenue as a possible site. Council gave the go-ahead. Staff took him on a helicopter ride over Glendale. When Ellman saw the Valley West Mall site he said it would never work because the arterial roads would not be able to handle the anticipated traffic. On that same fateful visit he saw all of the agricultural land adjacent to the Loop 101 and said that was his preference for a site.

When staff reported back to council with Ellman’s feedback, I was aghast. I was not supportive of a hockey arena in Glendale. In an effort to perhaps kill the deal, I insisted that Ellman be tied to Valley West Mall in a redevelopment project. I thought he would balk and walk away. I was wrong. He agreed to redevelop Valley West Mall and did so. The hockey arena would be built.

Ellman never engaged with Glendale or worked to develop a real relationship as a partner. Who knows why? I don’t. The city tried to engage him, but nothing ever developed. Ellman was very successful in booking major recording artists into the arena during his ownership tenure. I remember in particular, seeing Bette Midler, among others, perform there in the arena’s early years.

Jerry Moyes, Swift Trucking Company owner, became the team’s second owner when Ellman sold the team to him in 2005.  Moyes, a businessman, appeared to many observers, to take little interest in the team. There were also rumors that he was reluctant to invest in the team. He, too, never engaged with Glendale to build a mutually successful partnership. In 2008, Moyes declared bankruptcy and after a yearlong legal battle, the NHL took ownership of the team in 2008, according to bankruptcy court documents.

In essence, the NHL became the team’s 3rd owner in the space of 8 years. The NHL was merely a caretaker for the team while they desperately tried to acquire a new owner. I remember there were 4 or 5 entities in the race to buy the team. The one that impressed me the most was Greg Jamison. He was a true gentleman and eager to create that long missing partnership with Glendale. He had tons of hockey knowledge and experience due to his many years with the San Jose Sharks. He knew what it would take to put a good team on the ice. He put together a consortium of investors willing to invest their own money rather than saddle themselves with enormous debt but unfortunately, he was out maneuvered by one Anthony LeBlanc, one of Jamison’s very own investors and soon to become the new owner.

The 4th owners became Ice Arizona, led by George Gosbee/Anthony LeBlanc in 2013. The trouble with this ownership group was money. LeBlanc et. al., used very little of their own.  They borrowed nearly all the purchase price from various institutions and even got a loan of $70 million from the NHL. They were always cash poor. To observers it appeared as if they were a group of guys who got together to acquire a new play toy. They seemed to revel in owning a hockey franchise but when it came to creating a great product on the ice, they were not very adept. Again, no partnership with Glendale ever developed.

Andrew Barroway was one of the original Ice Arizona partners. By 2016, he acquired a majority interest in ownership and became the 5th owner of the Coyotes. I never met Mr. Barroway and I’m not sure anyone on city council ever met him either. I have no idea as to whether he was good or bad for the team. But, again, no partnership with the city ever developed. He seems to have been an absentee owner.

Which leads us to the latest and 6th owner of the Coyotes. In 2019, Alex Meruelo bought the team. I have never met Mr. Meruelo and only know that he is a successful businessman. From the day of his purchase he has publicly stated, along with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, that Glendale will not be a part of the Coyotes future and he planned to actively pursue a new location. Obviously, there has been no development of a partnership with the city.

How does the Coyotes saga of ownership compare with other Valley Sports teams? Here’s a graphic that depicts the string of ownerships of all of our teams:

The multiple ownerships in Coyotes history would appear to play a significant part in its ability to become a successful team. A string of different owners with their own agendas did nothing to stabilize the team and to create a successful product on the ice.

I, and the city, harbor no ill will toward Mr. Meruelo. He has made what he believes to be his best business decision to create a successful team. I respect that. In my next blog, I will comment on why retaining the Coyotes is not the best business model for Glendale.

The long-held myth has always been that Glendale was not a good site because the fan base is in the East Valley. I don’t necessarily buy into the myth. If that were the case, the Cardinals would never successfully fill their stadium, game after game.

I remember attending a West Valley economic summit years ago. The one comment made by the featured speaker, Elliot Pollack, a well-respected Arizona economist, was that Glendale was destined to become the geographic center of the Valley. As each year passes, this concept comes closer and closer to reality. West Valley cities, such as Buckeye, Avondale, Litchfield Park, Surprise and Peoria are all experiencing population explosions. At some point, the West Valley’s population will surpass that of the East Valley’s. That appears to be coming to fruition now. As the media have reported, Buckeye and Goodyear are both among the 10 fastest-growing cities in the United States. Buckeye has grown faster than any city in the country as its population grew in the last decade by 80%. There is the potential explosion of a fan base in the West Valley, but a team must work to cultivate it. All the team’s past owners failed to do so.

Another concept never fully appreciated is that we are primarily a population that moved here from somewhere else. I came from New Jersey. Over the years, I have overwhelmingly met “transplants” as opposed to native Arizonans. We came here with team favorites already encoded into our DNA and it’s difficult to embrace a new team as one’s favorite, especially when there is no compelling reason to do so.

We are “fair weather fans.” What would constitute a compelling reason to become an avid fan? It’s pretty obvious. A good team…a winning team. Witness the Suns and their recent run for the basketball championship. Everyone wanted to attend a game and tickets were selling like hotcakes at exorbitant prices. Every time the Coyotes were in the playoffs for the Stanley Cup, the fans came out selling out the arena and the “White Out” was born. There was no talk of East Valley fans vs. West Valley fans.

I am not trying to sell the notion of the Coyotes remaining in Glendale. That ship has sailed. It is not in our best business interest for the Coyotes to remain and the city has stated repeatedly that its decision is not a negotiating ploy. I just wanted to highlight other factors that are contributory to poor attendance.

The old saying, “build it and they will come” is still a valid statement but with a jaded society with so many entertainment choices, it’s incumbent upon every sports team to create a compelling reason for a consumer to spend what is often a great deal of money to attend a sporting event. The Coyotes, under a series of confusing ownerships, never created a compelling reason to become an avid hockey fan.

© Joyce Clark, 2021       

FAIR USE NOTICE

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

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

The Coyotes Press Release issued on Thursday, August 19, 2021, stated, We are hopeful that they (Glendale) will reconsider a move that would primarily damage the small businesses and hard-working citizens of Glendale.” It appears to be a veiled reference to Westgate’s businesses and seems to infer that they will suffer mightily with the loss of 42 Coyotes games per season.

It’s time to look back at the history of Westgate. It’s only rationale for existence in 2003 was the deliberate development by the city of Glendale’s hockey arena. When it opened in 2003, it was surrounded by a sea of vacant land, some of it was still agricultural. Fans came to the arena for the games and left immediately after the games because there was nothing for them to do or experience.

Steve Ellman failed to develop any of the adjacent commercial/retail for 2 years. It wasn’t until 2006, limited development opened with a few restaurants. Westgate, now in its infancy, began to grow and take shape. The Cardinals Stadium, Cabela’s, the AMC Theater and a few restaurants also opened in that year. Followed a year later, 2007, by the Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center. This is what the early Westgate looked like.

By 2012 Ellman could not weather the aftereffects of the economic storm and shed himself of Westgate as it went into bankruptcy. One of institutions that had loaned him the money for the project, IStar, took over Westgate.

Back then, the arena and stadium were the anchor tenants that kept the nascent Westgate afloat especially through the national recession that ended in 2009. Even though the recession officially ended in 2009, everyone, including Westgate felt its effects for several more years. IStar, as a major lending institution, held on to this property knowing its future potential. It did a credible job of keeping Westgate intact and growing. Since 2012, iStar had executed over 50 retail and office leases totaling in excess of 260,000 square feet, converted two floors of vacant office space into 76 luxury loft-style residential units, and brought to the district multiple new entertainment options including Dave & Busters and Tavern+Bowl.

Tanger Outlet Mall opened in 2012 and everything changed. iStar partnered with Tanger Factory Outlet Centers, Inc. to build the successful 400,000 square foot Tanger Outlets, Westgate. Tanger with its nearly 90 stores became the catalyst for more restaurants landing in Westgate for there are no restaurants within Tanger. Tanger patrons began crossing 95th Avenue to eat at Westgate’s restaurants. More restaurants located in Westgate as a result. Tanger Outlets was the beginning of less reliance on Coyotes games to keep Westgate alive.

In 2018, Bob Parsons, GoDaddy founder, bought Westgate for $133 million. Parsons said at the time of purchase, The potential at Westgate is huge. Westgate currently offers visitors a wide variety of entertainment options, but we’re looking to develop features that will entice even more visitors and residents to this unique and vibrant Valley location.”

In the past four years, due to Bob Parsons and his team (YAM Properties), Westgate has become even more vibrant with 38 restaurants, hotels, condos, apartments, and office space. It has become an economic powerhouse in the state and where businesses want to locate. Coming next to Dave & Buster’s will be Tiger Woods’ Pop Golf and Tesla has built a service center on the south side of Glendale Avenue. Some of the long tenured tenants, despite learning that the Coyotes are leaving, remain enthusiastic about investing hundreds of thousands of dollars into upgrading their venues. They know there is more to Westgate than the Coyotes and that more exciting development is coming before the Super Bowl in 2023.

YAM has done an exceptional marketing job for Westgate. Everyone in the Valley knows of Westgate. On any given night you can find some kind of activity in and around Westgate. Westgate is truly a sports and entertainment district.

Just to reemphasize how well Westgate is doing, this week in the Business Journal there was an article about the 7 new businesses coming to Westgate:

  • The Tesla Service Center will offer remote diagnostics, pre-diagnosed repairs and a retail showroom for model vehicles
  • Tacos Culichi, a popular Mexican restaurant in Phoenix, will open another location near Sunrise Boulevard.
  • First Watch is an American restaurant chain that offers a mix of breakfast, brunch and lunch classics. 
  • Bruster’s Ice Cream, another American chain, will open its third Arizona location at the district next to the Aloft Hotel. 
  • Pokitrition, a local shop, serves customizable poke bowls and sushi burritos. 
  • PopStroke Entertainment, which is owned by golf legend Tiger Woods and Greg Bartoli, announced plans to open in the Westgate Entertainment District. 
  • Cupbop, opened at the northeast corner of Sunset Boulevard and Hanna Lane in the entertainment district,
  • NakedQ BBQ, a barbecue joint, opened its third Valley location at Westgate

As reported in the Business Journal, “Oren Hartman, the owner of the NakedQ BBQ and head pit boss, said he’s looked at moving to the area for years, but decided the timing was right with ‘all the great growth out here’. He went on to say, ‘With the continued growth and population out here, with the commitment from YAM and Westgate to keep building up and making the facility better, and just to be around some world-class tenants, those were all the main reasons that we came over’.”

In a previous statement as part of the city’s Press Release, Dan Dahl said he supports the city’s decision to end negotiations with the Coyotes. The Business Journal received further comment from Mr. Dahl, “Westgate is not solely dependent on sports programming and the announcement doesn’t take away the endless potential we have to offer the area,” he said in an email on Tuesday. “Several of our tenants, including many restaurants, are experiencing increased activity and strong sales numbers every night of the week. Many even exceed pre-Covid numbers despite the events and activities still coming back slowly.” 

Perhaps the most consequential development scheduled to open in the Fall of 2023 is the Crystal Island Lagoon Resort located at 95th Avenue and Cardinals Way in the Westgate footprint. With its 3 hotels, 7 specialty retail islands, a 12-acre lagoon for public use, Mattel Amusement Park and much, much more it is anticipated to attract between 2 and 5 million visitors in its first year.

Westgate has grown up as has the City of Glendale. The city commissioned an economic study of the fiscal impact of Westgate with the Coyotes and without the Coyotes (replacing the team dates with other major events). The Applied Economics report revealed that, “In terms of spending at Westgate only (outside the arena) it would take approximately 20 additional concerts or large other events (with attendance of 10,000+) to equal the same amount of sales tax revenues to the city as 43 Coyotes games.”

Another important element of the Applied Economics study revealed was a comparison of per capita spending for a Coyotes game vs. a concert vs. another event. Per capita, the Coyotes generate $28 per game. A concert per capita is $58 and another event per capita is $35.

Currently, discounting last year which was severely impacted by Covid, the arena already books about 10 – 12 major events a year. With the Coyotes no longer consuming 42+ days (game days and practice days), there is confidence that an additional 20 days of major events can be booked. Keep in mind, the Coyotes actually tie up 200 days a year. Let me take a moment to explain what that means to the arena. In the fall, arena management must submit to the NHL 200 open days during which games can be scheduled there. However, the NHL doesn’t post its league schedule until the following spring at which time the arena finally learns which 42 game days must be preserved. Imagine trying to book other events when 200 days are in limbo for 6 months of the year.

When the Coyotes claim that their departure “would primarily damage the small businesses,” that is no longer an accurate statement. Like Pinocchio, their nose continues to grow longer and longer.

© Joyce Clark, 2021       

FAIR USE NOTICE

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

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

I’ve wanted to write this particular blog for nine months but confidentiality imposed by the principal developers precluded me from doing so.

Last September, the Glendale city council approved documents for the Crystal Lagoon Island Resort at Glendale. At that time David Leibowitz published an article disparaging the project. Here is the link to his original article: https://www.eastvalleytribune.com/opinion/valley-theme-park-plans-all-smoke-no-sizzle/article_50d85836-f6ab-11ea-a6a8-47e43bc1f48b.html .

In it he said, “Not to be outdone, the Glendale City Council last week approved ‘Crystal Lagoons, Island Resort,’ an 11-acre water paradise purported to include paddle boarding, scuba diving and boogie boarding – plus ‘water jetpacks.’ Whatever the hell those are.

“Naturally, Glendale electeds voted to waive $1 million in fees for the developer and employ a sweetheart financing deal known as a GPLET, which allows the builder to avoid paying property taxes for 25 years. That’s predicated on the project being built, of course, which I doubt. Not to sound cynical, but, like I said, I’ve been following theme park news for years. 

“The projects all follow a similar pattern: They get announced amid much braggadocio, make zero progress for years, then quietly expire.

“In this case, the political burbker du jour was Glendale Councilwoman Joyce Clark, who said at the Council meeting: “I am just so excited. … (This is) a blockbuster project that’s going to put Glendale on the map, not just in the Valley but in the Southwest.” Which I’m sure is what some elected yoyo said when the Garden of Eden was built – and with nary a tax break, if you can imagine that.”

Well, Mr. Leibowitz, today was the official groundbreaking for Crystal Lagoon Island Resort at Glendale. The project will be completed prior to the Super Bowl of 2023. I think it’s time you pound sand regarding your commentary about this project and I invite you to Crystal Lagoon Island Resort at Glendale when it is opened to pound said sand.

A project of this magnitude is not built nor planned in a day. The sale of the land has been completed at a cost of $27 million. Conceptual plans have been rendered and engineering/architectural plans are nearly completed. So now it is time to begin grading the land and that is exactly what is occurring now.

I suspect that Mr. Leibowitz’s motive for disparaging Glendale’s project had more to do with the election atmosphere in the fall of 2020. Add in his close connection in working with the Glendale fire fighter union. Glendale’s Primary Election was in August, 2020, a month before this blockbuster announcement. In that Primary Liebowitz and the Glendale firefighter union took a whippin’. They had backed and had poured tons of money supporting the opponent of Mayor Weiers and my opponent as well. They lost…again. You would think that they would learn the lesson to not mess with Clark and Weiers.

Liebowitz, stung after another firefighter election loss in Glendale, probably thought his article would be great payback and would be a perfect opportunity to go not to go after not only Glendale but me as well. It was like killing two birds with one stone. In this case, his stones missed their mark. I think we can write off Mr. Liebowitz and his opinions regarding anything Glendale related.

When the official groundbreaking occurred this past Thursday, June 10th, I said repeatedly this is the most significant project to come to Glendale since the arena opened in 2003 and the stadium opened in 2006.

Think about it. Why do so many of us escape to California for vacations? The incredible weather along the coast, of course, but it is the beach and water fun and the myriad of theme parks. I can’t think of a single theme park over there that combines a beach with rides.

That’s what makes Crystal Lagoon Island Resort such a unique venue, especially in the Arizona desert. I’m not sure the public realizes just how much one can do.

  • Do you want to swim, scuba dive, water jet pack or boogie board all day? No problem. You and your family can do that with a lunch break at one of the dozen or so restaurants available.
  • Or maybe it’s a day with the kids or grandkids at the Mattel Amusement Park including Thomas the Train and Hot Wheels rides. Over the coming months Mattel will be announcing more components for their amusement park. So be on the lookout for them.
  • Perhaps the older kids would prefer the “fly”or 4 D theaters similar to the “Soarin’ Around the World” attraction at Disney’s California Adventure theme park.
  • Have some visitors? They will be able to stay at Crystal Lagoon Island Resort where 650 hotel rooms will be available. Then you can all meet for a leisurely lunch followed by shopping at one or all five of the themed retail/restaurant island areas.
  • Looking for something unique to show off? Go to the Aerophile’s Aerobar for extraordinary food and drinks 130 feet off the ground. Want to show off the entire Valley of the Sun? Then the tethered hot air balloon rising 400 feet is just the ticket.
  • Need a bit more? Then plan on attending a live outdoor musical concert with well known musical artists nearly every night of the year. More announcements will be made about this element when the principals are ready to do so.

Marry Crystal Lagoon Island Resort with the Westgate/Zanjero area and it becomes a major vacation destination. Want to golf? Go to TopGolf or PopStroke (Tiger Woods designed mini golf). Professional sports venues of NFL football, NHL hockey or MLB spring training baseball await. If your passion is bowling there’s even a bowling alley! Professional shoppers beware as you head off to Tanger Outlets at Westgate or the unique, themed shops at Crystal Lagoon.

Just imagine! When Glendale hosts the Super Bowl in January of 2023, a couple or family can stay at one of the dozen hotels (nearly 2,000 suites available) and be within walking distance of all that I have mentioned above.

I hope I have been able to convey the magnitude of Crystal Lagoon Island Resort and its impact on Glendale with expected visitors of 5,000 to 6,000 a day. It is significant and truly incredible!

So, David Liebowitz…go pound sand…at Crystal Lagoon Island Resort. It’s coming despite your negativism and disbelief.

© Joyce Clark, 2021       

FAIR USE NOTICE

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

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

The year 2020 has been memorable and one we hope never repeats itself in terms of the Covid pandemic. As we move into 2021, I, as I am sure many others, await our opportunity to get the vaccine. We all assume that getting vaccinated will allow us to resume a more normal lifestyle.

Despite Covid Glendale has seen some remarkable events this year.

While considering the objections of adjacent residents, the City Council decided to close Glen Lakes Golf Course and to sell the land for a residential development. That action has taken place and we should see construction activity on the site in 2021.

The area surrounding the Loop 303 erupted with activity. Major developers snapped up land along the Loop 303 as fast as they could for industrial/manufacturing/commercial development resulting in several million square feet of space now under construction. This activity will generate over $10 million in construction sales tax for Glendale. One extremely contentious project, a Love’s Travel Stop, eventually disappeared. Council’s intent directed by policy creation was and is to develop the area for commercial development and to discourage residential development in the area. To date the city has been successful except for two residential parcels, county approved prior to their annexation into Glendale.

Zanjero and Westgate continue to add new developments to their sites. New multifamily complexes are springing up in those areas designed to provide a mass of residents that will support those areas for many years to come. Perhaps the most significant project that will put Glendale on the map as a major destination location is the Crystal Lagoon, Glendale located at the southwest corner of 95th Avenue and Cardinals Way. It is, in essence, a mini-Disneyland with a large lagoon available for public recreational use along with 3 hotels, a bevy of retail and entertainment experiences including a 150-foot-tall Aero Bar and a 400-foot tall, tethered balloon designed for public viewing of the entire Valley. This experiential retail will be open prior to the Super Bowl scheduled to be hosted by Glendale in 2023. Just as importantly, it will generate nearly $10 million annually in new revenue for the city. That money can and I hope, will be used to complete unfinished amenities and establish new ones for our Glendale residents.

Another major significant project was the completion of Ballpark Boulevard establishing a permanent connection between our White Sox and Dodgers spring training facility and the Westgate/Zanjero areas. There is several hundred acres of developable land along Ballpark Boulevard and I expect to see additional development on that land prior to the Super Bowl. Glendale is booming with new development and we can expect to see it continue through 2021 and 2022.

A major disappointment was voter disapproval of bond authorization in 4 areas: streets; parks and recreation; landfill and local drainage. We did a poor job of explaining these needs to our residents and failed to assure them that approval of authorization would not raise property taxes. I would expect the city to take another run at it in a few years and do a better job of explaining how important these needs are to our residents.

For example, I receive complaints about the condition of 83rd Avenue between Glendale Avenue and Northern Avenue daily. It was one of the reconstruction projects scheduled if the streets bond authorization had passed. With the failure of the bond authorization, city council will have to decide how and when 83rd Avenue will be remediated during its next budget process discussions scheduled for the spring of 2021.

On another note, I dip into an app called NextDoor periodically. Topics that are often repeated are complaints about fireworks, alerts to all about suspicious persons in a neighborhood and car break-ins. In all these instances, while it is nice to let your neighbors know about these events, it would be better still if each person picked up the phone and called the Glendale Police Department. The department lives by statistics. Every time a call is made it adds to the statistics for a geographic area. The department uses these statistics to determine where to deploy officers. The more statistics (calls) in a certain area the more likely officers will be patrolling and available to respond in a timely fashion to a call for service. Publicly aired complaints are fine but result in a lot of “sound and fury signifying nothing.” Please call the Glendale Police Department and make a report. Do not expect your neighbors to do it. Assume they have not and make that call.

The state has pre-empted cities’ ability to regulate fireworks and extraordinarily little authority is available to cities. If you want the fireworks to stop you are going to have to reach out to residents of other Valley cities and work together to let the state legislature know you have had enough.

In Glendale there are only two periods a year when fireworks may be used: June 24th to July 6th and December 24th to January 3rd. Any other time of year they are illegal. Fireworks that are shot into the air are always illegal. Glendale has increased the fine for illegal fireworks to $1500. Fireworks may not be used between midnight and 6 AM during the two permitted periods.

There is probably more that I could relate about Glendale and events of the past year but the ones I highlighted are the ones that have the most significance for me. I am proud of Glendale and especially the Yucca district which I represent. There is so much good news.

One comment that has always remained with me is a comment the renowned economist, Elliot Pollack, made years ago. He said that Glendale will become the geographical center of the entire Valley. It was prescient and extremely accurate. Glendale is becoming the center of the Valley, in more ways than one. In terms of population, Glendale is the 6th largest city in the state, but our focus is not on population growth but rather economic development and job creation. Our focus on economic development will reverse the current situation where 70% of our residents leave Glendale for employment. As we add more and more jobs and as we develop Class A office space, we will reverse that statistic and in the future Glendale’s residents will truly be able to live, work and play IN Glendale.

© Joyce Clark, 2019         

FAIR USE NOTICE

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

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

Ever since I began serving again on city council in 2012, I have been hosting a half hour video called “Beyond the Headlines.” Each councilmember has a half hour video and has named their segment as they chose. I chose “Beyond the headlines” because I wanted to take a deeper dive into specific Glendale announcements.

My latest video can be viewed on Cox cable Channel 11 TV and you can also go to the city of Glendale website and navigate to the latest offerings on Channel 11 and view them online at the city site if you do not have access.

I am especially pleased and proud of my latest video. Yucca residents know that development has exploded in our district. They see the new subdivisions as they travel on our district streets. They can see the construction taking place at Westgate and now Zanjero but they may not be as familiar with all of the development occurring around the Loop 303.

I thought it would be a good idea to put all of Yucca’s development into one half hour video. In order to see all that is happening for the very first time the media production team used a drone video.

I think this is the best video the media team has ever produced. Since you may not have access to view it I am sharing with you now:  https://vimeo.com/475688261/f6a548d471 . I am very proud of Glendale and the Yucca district and quite frankly, I wanted to show everyone just how great our district is. Not only is there room for even more residential development but the opportunities for commercial/industrial/retail in the Loop 303 area are incredible.

In addition to the tremendous amount of development in the Loop 303 area, now estimated at about 10 million square feet already approved, the announcement of Crystal Islands Lagoon Resort Glendale delivers an impact that will be felt throughout the Southwestern United States. It complements our professional sports venues for the Arizona Cardinals, the Phoenix Coyotes, the White Sox and the Dodgers by bringing a major entertainment themed resort to Arizona.

So, when you have a moment, sit back with a cup of coffee and catch up on what’s happening in the Yucca district in Glendale. I hope you enjoy the bird’s eye view!

© Joyce Clark, 2020         

FAIR USE NOTICE

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

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

This is a blog I have been dying to write for the past year. I simply couldn’t wait to announce this project until tomorrow. So, I will write for a couple of hours and post it in the wee hours of tonight. In this first blog I will give you the big picture regarding the project and in my next blog I will go into detail for those of you who may be nerdy like me.

A year ago our City Manager shared with me that there was a possibility that a Crystal Lagoon project could be coming to Glendale and specifically to my district, the Yucca district at the southwest corner of Cardinals Way and 95th Avenue. I had no idea what the concept was so the first order of business for me was to do my research. What I learned made me anxiously hopeful that Glendale could land such a project. I was excited about the prospect and periodically asked our City Manager Kevin Phelps about the success of the negotiations always ending with, “Can I announce it yet?” For months the response was always, “Not yet.”

The concept was born with Fernando Fischmann, a trained biochemist and a real estate developer. His first project was in San Alfonso del Mar, Chile. The obstacles in the creation of a large lagoon as an amenity to his real estate development project were immense and frankly, solutions were non-existent.  At the time there was no cost effective technology available that could be utilized to maintain a large body of water.

He did what any other genius entrepreneur would do. He did the research himself by setting up his own laboratory to invent the technology needed for his project. He successfully patented his newly created technology allowing him to build major residential/lagoon projects worldwide. Today there are at least a 100 Crystal Lagoons throughout the world — in every South American country; southern European countries like Spain and Greece; the Middle East from Egypt to Jordan; Canada and dozens of lagoons in the United States. The list of projects is extensive.

But it was time to apply the concept to not just residential projects but to a commercial/retail/office/hotel concept.

One of the first such projects will be in Glendale. The developer is ECL Glendale, LLC.  The project site is 48+ acres and will host 9 complimentary components:

  • an 11 acre lagoon style water park planned to include scuba diving, windsurfing and water jet packs
  • 175,000 square feet of retail space
  • 130,000 square feet of office space
  • 3 hotels offering a total of 630 hotel rooms
  • amusement rides
  • family entertainment center
  • fly and 4D theaters
  • restaurants and bars
  • a performing arts and film venue space

There will also be the first ever “aero bar,” a 135 foot elevated bar in the middle of the lagoon with a 360-degree view. It also will include the world’s largest helium balloon. The balloon will be on a tether with a gondola that raises riders 400 feet in the air offering a bird’s eye view of the entire Valley. Some of the newest elements have yet to be announced and you will learn of them in the coming months.

ECL Glendale, LLC. plans to begin construction this year, probably late Fall with a target completion date of October of 2022. That gives them a few months of operation to work all the bugs out before the Super Bowl comes back to Glendale in 2023. It’s an ambitious schedule but as all elements will be constructed simultaneously, it is doable.

So, how much will this plethora of entertainment cost the visitor? I understand that an All Day Pass will be $20 per person. That seems to be a competitive price compared to other water venues in the Valley.

Why am I so excited about the project? It’s a one-of-a-kind attraction for not just the State of Arizona but for the entire Southwestern United States. But even more importantly, it forever ensures that Glendale is the premier sports and entertainment destination in all of Arizona. Now, all we need is basketball and soccer to capture the entire sports market. Maybe if the Coyotes Hockey team actually leaves Glendale as they have threatened to do for several years we could repurpose the arena for basketball? Or perhaps the property owners of the “Vision 4” properties on the west side of the Loop 101 might try to lure additional sports venues such as basketball and soccer to their site? Who knows?

This soon-to-be resort site compliments and adds to all of the existing and soon-to-be constructed development in the Westgate and Zanjero areas. It causes Glendale to become a year round tourist destination, similar to Disneyland or Disneyworld. It also increases Glendale’s viability as a host city for mega events such as the Final Four. Lastly, it will generate slightly less than $10 million a year in new revenue for the city and will create an estimated 1,800 jobs.

This was a difficult and complex project to bring to reality. It has a lot of moving parts and I will get into those moving parts in my next blog.

I don’t believe anyone else, other than our City Manager, Kevin Phelps, could have successfully concluded this project. He is a master at development and exactly what Glendale needs to become eminently successful in a highly competitive market as cities out bid and jostle one another to land mega projects. Mr. Phelps has also put together an outstanding team of senior management responsible for the success of this project. It includes Brian Friedman, Director of Economic Development; Lisa Collins, Planning Administrator; Vicki Rios and Jack Friedline, Assistant City Managers; and Craig Johnson, Director of Utilities. If I omitted anyone please accept my apology. Michael Bidwill, representing the Bidwill family, also contributed to the project’s success by working with ECL Glendale, LLC. to craft a parking agreement.

I don’t think I can express the momentous effect this project will have not just for Glendale and the Metro Valley but for the entire state. This project is in the forefront of a new type of retail. As was expressed today, people no longer just want to buy things. We are entering a new age where people want experiences…memories that are invaluable. That is the promise of this new concept for Crystal Lagoon and the new buzz words are ‘experiential retail.’

© Joyce Clark, 2020         

FAIR USE NOTICE

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

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

Here’s a true story. Since 1992, for 18 years, I have been the Yucca district city councilmember with the exception of two periods: 1996 to 2000 and 2012 to 2016. During 1996 to 2000 while off council, the San Bellismo Apts at the southeast corner of 83rd Ave and Glendale Ave were approved and supported by then Councilmember Martin Samaniego. They are primarily  Section 8 apts. Between 2012 and 2016, the period during which then Councilmember Sam Chavira served, two apartment complexes in Zanjero were approved. All three of these apartment complexes were not approved during my terms on council.

My reputation has been to oppose apartment complexes in the district based upon: 1. if they are proposed for an inappropriate location and 2. if they are not quality, upscale projects with many major amenities.

However, there is one apartment complex at 95th Avenue, north of Camelback Avenue, directly east across from the Super WalMart that I do support. The developer and owner is P.B. Bell and I made it a point to visit their Aspera apartment complex in Arrowhead. It is an upscale complex and I am supporting it for that reason and for another.

Lowe’s bought the land in question 15 years ago with the intent of building a Lowe’s on the site. For whatever the reason, perhaps because there is a Home Depot just to the west, they changed their minds and a year later, put the property up for sale as a commercial parcel. It has remained a dusty, vacant lot ever since. There had been no interest in this site and no takers interested in developing it. This site is an appropriate one for an apartment complex and the fact that it will be upscale with lots of amenities makes it a supportable project.

Another possible site for an apartment complex is the city-owned Brown lot north of the Provence subdivision. In this case an apartment complex is appropriate for the location.

Let me share another true story with you.  In 2003 a subdivision of 37 acres with 215 homes at a density of 5.78 homes to the acre with an average lot size of 4,000 square feet was proposed for our district, the Yucca district. Approximately 60 neighbors attended the neighborhood meeting and vigorously opposed the project citing the density of the project, resulting lower adjacent property values, the traffic congestion and the increased crime it would bring. It was approved. That project was Provence. Today, Provence is a stable, well maintained, high density residential parcel within our district and the city.

A possible apartment complex on the Brown lot is supportable based upon its location within the Westgate/Zanjero area and only if it is upscale with major amenities. The Brown lot is 13.598 acres, about 1/3 the size of Provence. At medium density of 3.5 to 5 homes to the acre the home yield is approximately 47 to 67 homes. The property’s close proximity to Westgate/Zanjero makes the property very expensive to buy. There simply isn’t a residential, single family home builder that can afford to buy the property and develop it and make any kind of profit. If it were to stay zoned medium density residential it would probably remain vacant for another 20 years. Realistic development would be either commercial or high density residential.

Both of these sites, the 95th Avenue site and the Brown lot are within what could be called the Westgate/Zanjero area. The Westgate area now and into the future will be a dense area with considerable traffic congestion, much like Bell Road. That premise became viable in the early 2000s the minute the Gila River Arena and the State Farm Stadium were approved.

As an aside note, council recently approved funding for the design of Camelback Road between 83rd Avenue and the Loop 101. The design is mandated to create mitigation measures that will assist in accommodating the traffic on Camelback Road in that area. I would expect that in Fiscal Year 19-20 funds will be allocated to do the work. Will it be a magic bullet? I doubt it but it should mitigate some of the traffic jams we experience today.

I would never approach the support of an apartment complex lightly. Before I could support such a complex, I would need to see a plan and the amenity package and the price point for rental of various size units. I would need to be comfortable that it would be a quality project in the right location that would offer increased value to the area. As of this date no such plan has been offered. I would need to be comfortable that it is proposed in an appropriate location which, in my mind, is the Westgate/Zanjero area.

No, I am not suddenly going to abandon my principles and support apartments all over the district but I will support a select few that make sense within the Westgate/Zanjero area and if they are upscale and bring value to our district and to the city.

I would suspect that this blog will generate a lot of comments and I look forward to seeing them.

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

FAIR USE NOTICE

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

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

It’s always interesting to follow former high profile Glendale employees. This time it is former Glendale City Attorney Craig Tindall who made the news in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. In 2015 the Murfreesboro City Council hired Mr. Tindall as their City Attorney. This was after a several years’ stint as the City Attorney for Glendale as well as one of the Arizona Coyotes’ attorneys.

The problem this time seems to be a possible violation of the state’s Open Meeting law with regard to notice (not given to the public) on the topics to be discussed during 4 city council executive sessions during  which their then City Attorney, Mr. Tindall, was present and offered his opinion regarding, among other things, City Manager Rob Lyons prior to his ultimate resignation.

A little back history is in order. I was not on city council during the course of events. I was not on council from December of 2012 until December of 2016, at which time I resumed my council position.  I am relying on contemporary media reports.  During the summer of 2013 the city council asked Tindall to resign and he did so in return for which he was granted a six-month severance package. During that six month time period he continued to serve on the city pay roll since it was felt that he had expertise with regard to many ongoing issues including the negotiations about the Coyotes’ contract and the new ownership of Anthony LeBlanc, et. al.  However, after his resignation while still on the city pay roll, he also accepted a job as one of the Arizona Coyotes’ attorneys. Why he felt he could work for both while the Coyotes contract was still under negotiation is something Tindall has never adequately explained publicly.

An ethics complaint was filed in November of 2013 by a former city councilmember (not me). In that complaint it was alleged that Tindall had a conflict of interest as he remained on the city’s pay roll as a consultant while also working for the Coyotes.

The city hired a private attorney who filed a lawsuit contending that Tindall had a significant and perhaps detrimental involvement to the city in negotiating and writing the arena management contract considered by many observers to be more favorable to the Coyotes than it should have been. Tindall’s codefendant in the law suit was Julie Frisoni, who had been appointed an assistant city manager by the now infamous former City Manager, Brenda Fischer. In 2015 the city terminated the Coyotes arena management agreement that Tindall, in part, had negotiated. Apparently it was believed that both Tindall and Frisoni had tipped the scales in favor of the Coyotes.

A complaint was also filed with the Arizona Bar Association but was eventually dismissed. That should come as no surprise as the odds of being sanctioned by the state bar are slim to none unless one is an axe murderer.

Tindall characterized the entire episode by labeling the former councilmember who had filed the ethics complaint as “perpetually dissenting.” Well, that’s what one does when one wants to denigrate the accuser. Simply label the complainant as a kook or nut or whatever.

Enough history. It appears from a recent Murfreesboro newspaper article  that there is some question as to the circumstances of Tindall’s hiring as their new city manager (here is the link: https://www.dnj.com/story/news/2018/05/24/murfreesboro-city-attorney-craig-tindall-ethics-complaint-dismissed-glendale-arizona-coyotes-hockey/637205002/ ). The Murfreesboro city council was no longer satisfied with their current City Manager, Rob Lyons and so he resigned on December 15, 2018. Before the city council began its search for a new city manager, it met “four times in private with Tindall without giving what two experts say is required adequate public notice to discuss Lyons’ future before Lyons agreed to resign.”

“In January, the council spent $28,000 to hire a consulting firm to conduct a nationwide search that drew 35 applicants, but Tindall wasn’t one of them. The elected officials cut the list down to 11 on May 1. During its May 17 meeting, the City Council voted to offer the city manager’s job to Tindall.” 

So the guy the city council hired as their city manager despite a search for the position while not being on the list of the final 11 applicants, appears to have been the guy who gave the council advice about the entire situation. Hmmm…anything fishy about that? Nah.

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

FAIR USE NOTICE

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

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

I haven’t opined on the Coyotes in a long time. It’s sad that they remain in limbo, still seeking the Holy Grail of a new location…in or out of Arizona. You’d think that Andrew Barroway, owner of the team, would take a reality pill and acknowledge that no one is going to build them a new arena and then subsidize the team to play in it. The fans deserve better. They deserve surety and the team stubbornly refuses to provide it.

I have only attended 2 or 3 games this season but from what I hear from fans this season’s performance was dismal. Out of the 8 teams in the Pacific Division they ranked dead last with 45 games played to date turning in 10 wins, 28 losses. While the brand new Vegas Golden Knights, number one in the division, turned in 29 wins and 10 losses. The Coyotes also rank dead last in the league standings.

Having no other place to go, the Coyotes silently did nothing in December of 2017 triggering an automatic lease renewal at Glendale’s Gila River Arena. Here is the link to Craig Harris’ December 19, 2017 story in the Arizona Republic: https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2017/12/19/arizona-coyotes-staying-1-more-year-glendale-gila-river-arena/963379001/ .

Mr. Ahron Cohen, Coyotes’ Chief Operating Officer, is quoted as saying, “We are absolutely planning to play next season at Gila River Arena and are focused on building a winning hockey team, positively contributing to our community, and achieving success in all aspects of our business.”

Let’s take a look at the reality of that statement. Forbes magazine annually determines the worth of professional sports teams and it has valued the Coyotes at $300 million. It is the least valuable franchise in the 31-team NHL. The team lost at least $19 million last season.  Forbes stated the team’s debt ratio was 83 percent, meaning the franchise has very little liquidity or room to borrow money. In this financial atmosphere, it is painfully obvious that the team simply cannot afford to move – anywhere, in or out of the state. To date there has been no legislation offered at the state level to assist the team in some sort of relocation effort and it does not seem to be a viable option.

The Coyotes have the league’s lowest payroll of $54.8 million, according to the National Hockey League Players’ Association. Again, with an 83% debt ratio it’s no wonder that the team’s payroll is in the basement. Clearly with that kind of debt ratio the ability to build a winning team, as Mr. Cohen suggests, is unrealistic.

There is a lot of work to be accomplished by Mr. Barroway and his senior management to turn this team around. To accomplish that goal long term stability is required. Perhaps it’s time for him to create the stability of location, get serious and commit to a long term lease at the Gila River Arena. Once that issue is resolved and the distraction of seeking a bigger and better location (in their minds) is settled, they can focus on three major initiatives: The first and most important is ‘butts in seats’ despite the current quality of team play. It’s time to develop a major, effective marketing campaign to attract new fans. Get those ‘butts in seats’ to generate a greater proportion of revenue; the second is with better revenue comes the ability to pay for seasoned, successful players. Fans are fickle. They pay to see winners not losers. They cannot rely upon fan loyalty in the Valley. Just look at the Suns and Diamondbacks. Respectively their attendance is down and continues downward when they don’t make the playoffs; lastly it’s all about the fan experience these days. At the game I attended last week I witnessed a format that hasn’t changed since the team started playing in the arena, 15 years ago.

There are new strategies available to attract millennials and women. One has just to look at the Cardinals to notice what they have done to make the fan experience worth the price of a ticket. Their model remains successful as their season ticket holder base remains stable. Oh by the way, I haven’t heard the football fans that come from all over the state complaining that the venue is too far away. Yet Coyotes’ team management continues to point the finger at distance as a rationale for lousy attendance. When they were winning and made the playoffs there was no mention of distance. Come on, it’s time to bury the excuses, including this one.

The city and AEG would like to have the Coyotes stay at Gila River Arena. After all, it was built for hockey as its main tenant. The city has also learned that it should not be in the business of managing and that its arrangement with AEG is a winner. It has no intention of terminating the relationship for AEG has done an outstanding job in its first year of management.

It’s time for Barroway to stop playing games…off the ice. Commit to stay at Gila River and get to work on creating a better team performance and building a super fan base. Glendale has publicly offered to help but it will never go back to the old model of subsidizing the team. It’s time for Barroway to make a major effort to turn things around. Will he…or won’t he? That is the question.

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

FAIR USE NOTICE

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

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