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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.

Glendale’s future looks very bright but there is one storm cloud on its short-term horizon and that is the near-term threat of another national recession. I would hope that the city is not forced to repeat what it did the last time and that was to defer maintenance of the city’s infrastructure.

However, my vision is not one of doom and gloom but rather building upon successes already achieved. I will “crystal ball” various components within the city from my lens as a sitting councilmember in Glendale for over 20 years. In that time, I’ve participated in the good, the bad and the ugly. I would remind you that this is my vision and just because I am visioning, it does not mean that any of my vision will become reality. I welcome readers’ comments including your vision for a Glendale of the future.

Economic Development. It should be acknowledged that most of, perhaps more than 85% of all the recent economic development successes have occurred in the Yucca district. I anticipate that trend to continue. While there are very few meaningful vacant parcels in Glendale’s other districts, there remains plenty of vacant land left for job development, especially in the western portion of the Yucca district.

All cities must continually seek the Holy Grail of economic development, or they will stagnate and eventually die. Since Arizona is a low property tax state, cities rely upon other forms of taxation and most critically, sales tax. That is why economic development is so important to any city.

There are 6 major economic nodes in Glendale – 1. Arrowhead Mall and Bell Road Corridor, 2. Downtown Glendale and 3. Westgate/Zanjero area; and I would argue 4. the Airport area, 5. the Loop 303 area, commonly referred to as the “New Frontier,” and 6. the Ballpark area.  Let’s look at my expectations for each area.

Arrowhead. I expect the Arrowhead Mall and the Bell Road corridor to continue to thrive. Despite rapidly growing use of the Internet for consumer purchasing, people still like to touch, see, and feel the products they buy. The owners of Arrowhead Mall have done an excellent job of keeping the Mall up-to-date and to refreshing its look and product offering continually. My vision is Arrowhead and the surrounding area will thrive for years to come.

Downtown. My vision is to see the Downtown area adopt some major changes or die. The city can only do so much to prop up this area and has made a major commitment with its intent to refresh the City Hall Complex which includes its Amphitheater. This area needs two components to survive and flourish. One is an entertainment destination. The current buzzword is ‘experiential retail’. People expect not just to shop but expect an opportunity to be entertained in some form or fashion. An entertainment destination for the Downtown should be a movie theater, performing arts theater, museum, or art gallery—a facility that draws people downtown, every day, 365 days a year. Look at Phoenix. It was not by whim that it located a science museum and a history museum in its downtown.

Our Downtown also needs a mass of new residents. This will happen. All it takes is one apartment complex developer to locate Downtown and others will follow. A vibrant downtown needs people to live, work and play within it.

The other missing component essential to a vibrant downtown is the creation of a Downtown Merchants Association that becomes the only legitimate voice and a catalyst for Downtown Glendale. Downtown Glendale is split between two opposing groups – those who will not embrace any change to Downtown and those who embrace the need for change. Until those two factions unite into one, viable Downtown Merchants Association that requires ‘skin in the game’ in the form of annual dues as well as a commitment by its members to be open on a regular basis, stagnation will continue. How long can stagnation exist before the common body dies? I suspect for a few more years. Time is running out for Downtown Glendale. While the city adds Café Lighting and refreshes its Amphitheater, it does not and cannot solve its deep-seated problems and only prolongs the agony.

Westgate/Zanjero area. This area continues to exceed all expectations. As I say repeatedly, the Crystal Lagoon Island Resort, once opened, will change the character of the area forever. It is a powerhouse development project that will draw visitors from all over the world. My vision for the area is to see development continued on all parking lot space and parking to be contained to several large parking garages. The space is simply too valuable to continue to be used for parking and that includes the city owned ‘Black Parking Lot’. My vision also includes the city’s sale of the Gila River Arena to an experienced entity committed to creating profitability by booking events nearly every day of the year. If, someday, the arena is sold, my vision would be to use the proceeds to finance construction of Heroes Park Recreation and Aquatic Center and to finance the construction of a museum in Downtown Glendale. My vision would be to create a partnership with the Smithsonian. The Smithsonian has rotating exhibits that are placed throughout the country. One of my fondest experiences while attending college in Baltimore was to go to D.C. and spend a day at the Smithsonian. It has so many wonderful exhibits and it would take someone a month or better to visit everyone on a daily basis.

Loop 303 area. Development of this area as a job corridor is booming. I expect its growth to continue for a few more years until nearly all developable land is consumed. To meet the employment demand that this area generates it is my vision that the city focus on retraining and reeducation of our work force by partnering with our educational institutions to create nodes of work force training in key locations throughout the city. My vision also includes partnerships with education to create more STEM centers throughout the city.

Airport area. This area to-date has been underutilized and underappreciated. My vision is to see the land on the east side of the airport developed as a major airpark in the next few years. The runways should be elongated to their maximum extent possible to attract more corporate jet traffic. My vision also includes developing a connection over the Agua Fria River so that there is connectivity between the Westgate area and the Airport.

Ballpark area. This area is on the cusp of an explosion of new development. Since Ballpark Boulevard was constructed the connection between the Westgate/Zanjero area and this area has been enhanced. There are several hundred acres of prime, vacant land to be developed. My vision is to see a limited amount of residential apartment development to create some mass in the area but also to see more retail/commercial development in the area. And yes, another hotel would be a welcome addition to the area. My vision is to see strong interconnectivity between the Westgate/Zanjero area, the Airport area and the Ballpark area. When that occurs Glendale will ensure its economic prosperity and vitality for years to come.

There are some parts of my vision that don’t fit neatly into the above cited economic boxes but should be part of not just my vision but that of the city vision. One of these is to address low socio-economic, minority neighborhoods. A city is only as great as its marginalized neighborhoods. If we continue to ignore them, they will spread and destabilize other parts of our great city. Right now, there is a continual circle in these neighborhoods. Because they are already marginalized, we continue to allow non-profit organizations, in the name of doing good and serving their client populations, to plant more services in these neighborhoods. As more non-profits locate in an area, the more likely even more poor and minority populations locate there. It’s time to break this vicious cycle. Non-profits and low-income housing must be dispersed throughout the city. There are all kinds of good, sound reasons to do so that I will not elaborate upon at this time.

Another vision that doesn’t fit neatly into a box is that of art and culture within our city. These elements reflect who we are and what we value at any given point in time. Glendale has historically lacked the commitment to value art. My vision is to emphasize visual art throughout the city. It isn’t just a mural on the side of a building in Downtown or an historically themed statue placed in front of a city building. It’s a commitment by the city to encourage the use of art not just at a newly constructed building but the encouragement, even if it means financially, of older buildings to adopt art as an element of their public face. My vision is to see the use of art liberally throughout the city on both public and private property.

My vision also includes greater appreciation of the various ethnicities and cultures that historically birthed Glendale – Russians, Asians, Hispanic and yes, Caucasians. I would like to see an annual festival that celebrates the history, the food, the music of all these groups who came together to envision our community.

I am sure I left something out and I expect you, the reader, will tell me. The bottom line is that we all want the same things – a clean Glendale everywhere within it, a safe Glendale everywhere within it, a Glendale with employment opportunities within it for you, a Glendale that offers superior services to all its residents, a Glendale that offers a wide variety of recreational opportunities, a beautiful Glendale and a Glendale that values and recognizes its past. We may have differing visions on how to get there.

We’re not there yet but maybe that’s a good thing. It offers us an opportunity to dream, to act and to strive to make Glendale even better.

© Joyce Clark, 2022      

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 written for awhile simply because being a Glendale City councilmember is more complicated and busier than ever. It takes a minimum of 3 hours and often days to write, edit and publish one blog.  I miss writing and I need to make a concerted effort to carve out the time to do so. Be that as it may, there are many events of which to make note.  Most are not enough for a full blog on their own but should be recognized.

Arguably, the most important recent event is the Grand Opening of Heroes Regional Park Lake. While the celebration was occurring, people were already catching fish. About 100 residents came to the ceremony and many expressed their gratitude to see this wonderful addition to the park. Next up will be to get some sports fields constructed followed by the biggest, most expensive ticket item, the Recreation & Aquatics Center.

Inflation is killing all of us, including cities. Yesterday I filled up my car to the tune of $56. Before Biden that same tank of gas cost me about $25 or $30. My weekly grocery bill has increased by about 40%. Then there are supply chain issues. My local Safeway has had bare shelves, especially in the pasta and chicken sections. They haven’t had any chicken for the past 10 days.

This situation is rough on people on a fixed income, like me and obviously on the poor. From what we all hear it will continue throughout 2022 and we can expect prices to go even higher. The same holds true for cities. For instance, Glendale uses a lot of chemicals to treat its water supply. Those same chemical prices have risen about 30%. This same scenario goes for everything from copy paper, cleaning supplies to vehicle parts and maintenance. While Glendale is earning more revenue than ever before it is paying higher prices than ever before.

Development in the Loop 303 area continues to boom. Several new projects have been announced and there continues to be more in the pipeline. The industry has recognized that Glendale’s “New Frontier” is an established job corridor in the Valley.

Westgate continues to thrive with new development as well. After some internal delays on the part of the developer, Tiger Woods’ Pop Stoke will begin construction any day and is slated to be completed this fall. To the east of the AMC theater, a pickle ball complex complete with a restaurant and bar and rental facilities, ala Top Golf, is slated to start construction in the near future and is expected to be open prior to the Super Bowl. The Thirsty Lion, a 2-story restaurant and bar, situated between the arena and the Renaissance Hotel, is about to start construction as well. A new concept restaurant, exclusively serving some of the most decadent desserts you can possibly imagine, will take the place of the Saddle Ranch Chop House.

Let’s not forget the Crystal Lagoon Island Resort development. I continue to believe it is the most significant development ever to occur within Glendale. It is a mini-Disneyland without the $100+ a day charge per person to enter. Expect about 12 million visitors a year. It will contribute nearly $10M a year in sales tax revenue to Glendale. I expect it to draw visitors not just from the state or the southwest but nationally and even internationally. It’s a Saturday and I just checked their live camera. Earth moving equipment is busy today and the large crane was in use. If you would like to check it out, use this site: https://app.truelook.cloud/dashboard/553/923/live?code=15hm7ev0xey9jmgpfyf2jd9e0&fbclid=IwAR2VhkoN56nBnnmqMouCzAWFM9BHxtvSmNlj83REtd_D2fuA3g9vdeZ-SAY

One of the city services most loved by residents is sanitation. Recently our City Manager related that 44% of the sanitation drivers were out with Covid. Sanitation division managers and employees from other departments stepped up to fill the void resulting in no disruption in your service. Your trash was collected as usual and I bet you had no idea that Covid was crippling the department’s ability to service you. Yet I recently read that the same kind of situation occurred in Tempe resulting in a disruption of pick-up service for about a week. Two cities, two different ways to handle the problem.

At our next council voting meeting I will vote to approve a rate increase in sanitation. Sanitation is run by Michelle Woytenko, Director of Field Operations. Ms. Woytenko is one of the best Directors in the city of Glendale. She is no nonsense and provides excellent information and service to every resident. Our office has contacted her to report a citizen’s trash pick-up being missed and Ms. Woytenko will have someone picking it up the same day. Her explanation for a rate increase was logical and persuasive.

Speaking of money, in February the city council begins its annual budget oversight and preparation for the next fiscal year. We will begin with the Capital Improvement Program. This is the portion of the budget that lays out what infrastructure the city will build, rehabilitate, improve, or maintain for the next 5 years. It is one of the most important segments of the city budgetary process.

The city has completed its redistricting process and submitted its plan to the state and the feds for final approval. As of now, unless something dramatic occurs, the new city council boundaries are set not only for the next election in November of 2022 but for the next ten years until the next census.

There has been minimal accommodation for the tremendous growth occurring in the Yucca district. Instead of creating all districts with a population of about 41,000 the Yucca district will start with a population of 39,000. However, I contended that the accommodation is insufficient. I anticipate an additional 14,000 moving into the Yucca district in the next few years. I anticipate a population in the Yucca district of about 55,000. The Yucca district is the ‘gorilla’ of Glendale’s districts. It is the largest geographically; it accounts for about 80% of all recent and current economic development within the city; and will soon have the greatest population of all the districts. Much of the new population can be attributed to Stonehaven, a residential development between Camelback and Bethany, 83rd to 91st Avenues. At build-out it will contain 1,365 new homes. Another factor is the multitude of apartment complexes in the Westgate area. Westgate needs a mass of people living there to support all its retail and restaurants.

The eastern boundary between the Yucca and Ocotillo districts has changed. From Northern Avenue to Orangewood Avenue the boundary is 75th Avenue. The east side of 75th is in the Ocotillo District and the west side is in the Yucca district. At Orangewood Ave to Glendale Avenue the boundary is 71st Avenue. From Glendale Avenue to Bethany Home Road the boundary is 75th Avenue. Note that Independence Heights subdivision is now in the Ocotillo district. From Bethany Home Road to Camelback Road the boundary is 67th Avenue. Here is a map that shows the dividing lines between the Yucca district and the Ocotillo district:

Council is moving forward on remodeling the City Hall complex. It demonstrates our commitment to downtown Glendale. The exterior look of the buildings will be updated. The parking garage, long in need of major repairs, will be rehabilitated. The concept of offering free, live entertainment year round at the city amphitheater will continue in a newly reconfigured and updated area. Murphy Park will receive an update as well.

You may have noticed that I am the only councilmember to consistently vote ‘no’ on the city’s awarding of 5-year contracts to vendors of services and supplies. I do so for several reasons. A 5-year contract is longer than a city council term of office which is 4 years. That results in no continuity of oversight by the council. If a new councilmember comes in there is no knowledge of the existing contract or its terms or pricing. In addition, the contracts are often for ordinary goods or services and 5-year contracts for those items do not create a competitive atmosphere. Some say a 5-year contract is good because it locks in prices for 5 years even during inflationary periods such as now. Not so, quite a few contracts have come before us lately as amended seeking our approval for an increase. In all cases, the vendors are asking for increases to cover inflationary costs. So a 5-year contract does not lock in prices during the term of the contract. In addition, the same vendor who asked for a price increase, if prices decline, never, ever, comes back to offer the city an adjusted lower cost to reflect that decline. It’s all one way and always higher. I believe contracts should be no longer than 3 years and then put out for bid again.

Lastly, a few thoughts about the city owned Gila River Arena and the Coyotes. The city was not bluffing or positioning itself for a better lease deal with the Coyotes when it terminated the lease agreement. The city council has approved a contract with HKO to rehabilitate the arena. Deliberately moving from a sports venue to an entertainment venue requires a venue that is comfortable and welcoming to its attendees. After years of flaky ownership – Ellman, Moyes, LeBlanc, Barroway, etc., a consistently losing team and financial difficulties, it’s fair to say enough is enough. We wish the Coyotes well and harbor no ill will. It’s up to the Tempe city council to decide if they can do better. I would simply ask them to consider these questions: Does each member of the council believe there is a bond of trust between themselves and the current ownership group? Has Tempe’s staff done its due diligence, and can it demonstrate that the ownership group has the finances to invest into such a project? Will the ownership want financial contributions from the city of Tempe and does the city have the bond capacity for such a project? In an election year how will Tempe residents react to any deal that requires the city to spend taxpayer dollars for another sports arena in the Valley?

This new year will be interesting to say the least. Glendale is in the strongest financial position it has had for years. We will weather this inflationary period and come out on the other side, stronger and more resilient. We have the funds to expend on one-time projects that will benefit our citizens and create a better, more vibrant Glendale.

© Joyce Clark, 2022      

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.

Glendale has become a growth leader in the metro area over the past 5 to 7 years. The most startling fact to share is this – “ According to Colliers, there are 19.2 million square feet of space currently under construction throughout the region, with almost 40 percent of that in Glendale.” No other city in the Valley has experienced this kind of growth. This is remarkable. I credit our City Manager, Kevin Phelps, and our city’s Economic Development Department.

For those of you who are not ‘fact nerds,’ this blog may be boring but Glendale’s remarkable transformation since 2014 is worth noting.

In 2014, the city’s bond rating dropped to BBB. In 2020, the city’s bond rating is now AA. This rating is extremely important because this rating results in lower interest rates when the city borrows money. The amount of bond debt per person in Glendale has dropped from a high of $771 to $384 today.

City Council created a policy deliberately concentrating on employment growth in the Loop 303 Corridor dubbed the “New Frontier.” Even though residential growth was not a prime objective, since the last census, Glendale’s population has grown by 21,000 new residents with more than half of that growth occurring since 2015 and its total population is now over 250,000 people. Between 2016 and 2021, 4,880 new housing units both multi-family and single family, have been constructed. There has been a concerted effort to concentrate multi-family in the Westgate/Zanjero area to sustain and support this major economic center.

Glendale is one of the 5 top Valley cities having a jobs per capita ratio today of 0.40 and it is expected to continue to increase. Over 118,000 residents are employed with 21% of its residents working in Glendale. Most of our residents, about 57% work in Phoenix. On the other hand, about 30% of Glendale’s workforce lives in Glendale with about 25% of Glendale’s workforce living in Phoenix and about 15% living in Peoria.

All this new economic growth has increased General Fund revenues from $174M in Fiscal Year 2010 to $241M in Fiscal Year 2020. In Fiscal Year 2021, the city council approved Glendale’s first billion dollar total budget. The General Fund is used to finance the day-to-day operations of the city and includes all employee compensation. Planning and Permitting revenues saw a dramatic jump from $4.5M in Fiscal Year 2018 to $37M in Fiscal Year 2021. This is primarily due to all the new Loop 303 development. This revenue is one-time money that can and has been used for catching up on improving Glendale’s amenities.

Let’s not forget the Crystal Lagoon Island Resort, Glendale, development. I’m not sure it is appreciated just exactly how much impact this single project will have on Glendale, the Valley and the State. Click on this link if you would like to see the live feed of ongoing construction at the site: https://app.truelook.cloud/dashboard/553/923/live?code=15hm7ev0xey9jmgpfyf2jd9e0&fbclid=IwAR2VhkoN56nBnnmqMouCzAWFM9BHxtvSmNlj83REtd_D2fuA3g9vdeZ-SAY

With the 3 hotels, the public water feature, 5 nodes of retail/restaurant and the Mattel family amusement center, this project is a game changer for Glendale. Expect about 5,000 visitors a day with an annual attendance of about 12 million. It is expected to generate about $10M a year in sales tax revenue for Glendale. It is the owners’ intent to be open prior to the Glendale hosted Super Bowl in 2023. With the exposure surrounding the Super Bowl, expect visitors not just from the Valley or State but nationwide, even internationally. It will become one of THE places at which to have a family vacation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the remodeling of the city owned Gila River Arena focusing on the customer experience at a major concert venue, set to occur next year (2022), again, in time for the Super Bowl, expect attendance spill over from the Crystal Lagoon Island Resort. Just imagine a family vacation for several days with all that the Lagoon offers plus attending a concert at Gila River Arena and all the offerings at Westgate/Zanjero. It makes for a great family vacation package.

 

 

 

What do all the numbers and facts and figures mean? It means Glendale is not just financially healthy but is about to become the gorilla of the Valley. Hear Glendale roar!

© 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.

On December 3, 2021, the State of Arizona’s Department of Revenue (DOR) filed a tax lien against the Arizona Coyotes in the amount of $1.3 million with approximately $250,000 being owed to the City of Glendale for unpaid taxes. The tax lien states the team owes taxes as far back as June 2020 (that’s a year and a half). In the City of Glendale letter sent to Xavier Gutierrez, President and CEO of the Arizona Coyotes, advising the organization if payment on back taxes as well as monies owed to ASM Global, manager of the Gila River Arena, were not paid in full by close of business on December 20, 2021, not only would the organization be locked out of the building, but their Glendale business license would be terminated. See the correspondence below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This latest development should come as no surprise if you had read Katie Strang’s Athletic story, Dysfunction in the desert: Finger-pointing, fear and financial woes roil the Coyotes organization published in February 16, 2021. Here is the link: https://theathletic.com/2390146/2021/02/16/arizona-coyotes-investigation-toxic/ . Be forewarned, you must subscribe to the Athletic to read the full article.  It is well researched,   in-depth and a fascinating read. Ms. Strang also provides strong coverage of the organizations’ structural disfunction. Excerpts from her story referring to the organization’s past financial issues include the following:

  • “Meruelo’s acquisition of the Coyotes was supposed to portend a new era for the team. Instead, people within the organization and across the NHL are now wondering if the league erred in approving his purchase.”
  • “In April, the team announced it was furloughing half of its staff due to pandemic-related financial issues. In May, the Arizona Republic reported that promises to pay the arena’s part-time and hourly staff members had not been met. The team and arena management company, in response to the report, said they would ‘finalize our support plan that will be executed within the next 30 days’.”
  • “In September, The Athletic reported that a handful of players did not receive their signing bonuses on time.”
  • “The Athletic identified and spoke with eight vendors with whom the Coyotes had outstanding or past due balances or negotiated their debt to a lower amount.”
  • The Seyfarth Shaw law firm has been retained to investigate various allegations associated with the organization. “Among them, Seyfarth Shaw representatives have asked about:

           The accuracy of financial documents provided to third parties, such as banks and private  lenders, required to meet specific loan obligations. The accuracy of financial reports the organization sent to the league, which reflect team revenues and can potentially impact player salaries and the salary cap.”

It was Ms. Strang who broke the December 8, 2021, Athletic story regarding the Coyotes’ unpaid taxes. Here is the link: https://theathletic.com/news/coyotes-could-be-locked-out-of-home-arena-by-city-of-glendale-for-unpaid-arena-charges-delinquent-tax-bills/ArAVPFTj0LId/ . I imagine Garry Bettman’s (President of the National Hockey League) call to Mr. Meruelo, after the story broke about unpaid taxes was short and sweet…Pay those @#$%&* taxes now!

On December 9, 2021, the Coyotes organization issued the following statement saying they have launched an investigation to determine “how this could have happened.” In their press release they state, “Initial indications are that it appears to be the result of an unfortunate human error. Regardless, we deeply regret the inconvenience this has caused. We will make sure that by tomorrow morning, the Arizona Coyotes are current on all of our bills and owe no state or local taxes whatsoever. And we will take immediate steps to ensure that nothing like this can ever possibly happen again.”

If this sounds familiar, it should. According to Katie Strang’s February 16, 2021, article, when asked about paying players, “Gutierrez described both of these snafus as ‘process’ failures.”

Once again, Gutierrez seems to be pointing the finger at “process failures” implying it wasn’t deliberate but rather a glitch in the system. Maybe if it had happened once and in isolation with no background of financial questions it would be accepted as a plausible answer but there seems to be an ongoing pattern of “process failures.”

It is also no small matter to possibly lose the organization’s business license. It’s not just a matter of possibly being locked out but without a business license even if an alternate venue were found, it couldn’t be used without having a license to do business.

Today, December 9, 2021, the media is reporting that a short while ago, the Coyotes wired the entire amount to the State DOR. We do not know if they have also paid their arrears with ASM Global. I would advise Glendale to double check and to make sure all unpaid amounts are now current. One would expect no less considering the avalanche of negative publicity they generated yesterday and today.

I suspect there is more to the Arizona Coyotes’ story that will have to unfold shortly. Right now, the most pressing issue is meeting the NHL’s schedule deadline to submit the team’s play dates and their location to the League by a January, 2022 date. This early date is because the League has to juggle all teams’ schedules and craft a League schedule that satisfies all.

Forget the possibility of a new arena in Tempe. The immediate and most critical question is where will the Coyotes play while waiting 3 to 5 years for a new arena? That is, IF Tempe accepts their RFP. The only word coming out of Tempe is that they are doing extensive due diligence.

I have found over the years that a deal is best crafted when both parties can trust each other. That may be the most seminal question that Tempe will have to decide. Can they trust the Coyotes to be good, reliable financial partners?

Let me make clear, the City of Glendale is done with the Coyotes. Their absolute refusal to negotiate a long-term, 20 year lease simply made the City’s decision clear. They will not be playing in Glendale for their 2022-23 season or in any future season. That door is closed.

While Glendale has no interest in where they play in the future, I think it’s fun to speculate and the rest of this blog is pure speculation. It is not based in fact or any insider knowledge.

The only viable location is the Arizona Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum. Keep in mind pursing this location as a temporary venue is dependent upon Tempe’s awarding the RFP to the Coyotes. Then it would make some sense to pursue a lease of the Coliseum. My guess it’s a 50/50 proposition as to whether Tempe accepts the Coyotes’ RFP. What if Tempe declines to award the Coyotes an RFP? For many that is an unthinkable outcome, but it is possible. If that were to happen, there would be no need of a temporary location and I would imagine a sale of the team would be imminent. This is the only play the Coyotes have. Forget all other locations. Each has a solid reason to be unworkable.

Here are the problems with the Coliseum. It’s now December, 2021. The work and the expense involved in renovating the building are extensive and even if work on the building started tomorrow, it is doubtful the building would be ready in a mere 10 months in time for the new season in October of 2022.

According to a recent Craig Morgan story of December 8, 2021, entitled Back to the future: Coliseum makes most sense as Coyotes’ interim arena solution, he, too, thinks the only temporary solution for the Coyotes is the Coliseum. Craig Morgan has always been very friendly and supportive of the Coyotes’ ownership over the years. One can speculate that he has sources within the organization and he is reflective of their thinking process.

The Coliseum has major structural problems. The building needs a need roof, new flooring and an additional ice plant for starters. Even with a new roof it can not accommodate a centrally hung scoreboard. There are no suites and maximum attendance would be in the 13,000 to 14,000 range. If the Coyotes do use the building they will continue to bleed financially.

I had heard that it would cost $40 to $50 million to get the building in shape for hockey but Morgan, in his article, cites a construction expert who said a more realistic number is in the $100 million range.

If Tempe awards the RFP to the Coyotes everything becomes a political calculation from that point forward. We can speculate that the Coyotes will go to Governor Doug Ducey and ask to rent the building (maybe for $1 a year?) and having a great deal of Chutzpah, demand that the state pay the cost of renovating the building for them…and, oh, by the way, you have 10 months to do so. Here’s where it really gets political. Ducey is a lame duck Governor, termed out. There are rumors that he intends to run for the U.S. Senate. He will have to make a political calculation as to how such action would play with his voter base. While he might win the support of 17,000 to 20,000 Coyotes fans there are far more voters that would not take kindly to any kind of financial give away to yet another sports franchise using taxpayer dollars. It could become the albatross that makes him unelectable.

The next few months will be very interesting as we watch this play out. My personal take is that the Coyotes will be sold. Alex Meruelo has become a liability to the NHL and especially to Gary Bettman.

© 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.

On November 2. 2021 there will be a Special Election for the Pendergast Elementary School District and the Tolleson Unified High School District if you live in West Glendale. I recently received the publicity pamphlet for the Pendergast Elementary School District. 99% of the recipients of the pamphlet will file it in the circular file.

You can’t vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ unless you know the facts of the voter request. So, here goes. First, I pulled out my state property tax bill and I will share it with you. The Limited Cash Value (LCV) of our home for tax year 2021 is $217,679. This number is important because that is the number used to determine how much property tax you pay each year.

Your tax bill tells you how much of the total amount paid (our total for the year is $3,142.94) goes to whom. Here is what our bill states:

Pendergast Elementary                     $439.27         +7.1%

Pendergast Elementary Bonds            $456.55         +4.9%

Pendergast Elementary Overrides       $369.54         -8.3%

We will pay Pendergast taxes of $1,265.36 for tax year 2021. That’s 40% of our entire tax bill with a +3.7% increase this year over last year. With our home whose limited cash value is $217,679 the additional tax is about $228.30 a year or about $19.09, nearly $20 a month.

While we’re at it, let’s take a look at the rest of the property tax bill. We are in the Tolleson Unified High School District so a portion of our property tax goes to them as well.

Tolleson High School                           $434.49         -.4%

Tolleson High School Bonds                 $308.30         +27.5%

Tolleson High School Overrides            $287.60          -3.5%

We will pay Tolleson Unified High School taxes of $1,030.39 for tax year 2021. That’s 33% of our entire tax bill with a +23.6% increase this year over last year. That means 73% or $2,295.75 of our entire annual property tax bill of $3,142.94 goes to 2 school districts.

The amount of our bill that goes to the City of Glendale is $375.65. That money is used for police, fire, parks, transportation, etc. Here’s a fact that many do not know. Your property tax does not cover the average expenditure by the city per home. The current estimate is that to provide city services the cost is about $900 per home. How does any city make up the difference? In its collection of other taxes such as sales tax. That is why economic development is a critical driver for every city.

What is Pendergast asking for? To issue bonds in the amount of $53.5 million. But that is not the real number. While they propose to borrow $53.5 million when debt is paid back there’s interest to be paid for the right to borrow money. From their publicity pamphlet, “The estimated total cost of the proposed bond authorization, including principal and interest, is $74,701,002.” Over 15 years the district will pay about $21 million in interest. I would love to know what the district’s credit rating is as they say the interest rate average is 5% but could be as high as 8%. I guess, for public purposes $53.5 million looks a lot better than                                                 $74.7 million.

What do they want to spend the money on? The proposed capital improvements listed on page 10 of the publicity pamphlet are what you should pay attention to. The descriptions on pages 3 and 4 of the pamphlet are a wish list of identified projects and a wish list that may or may not be actually funded. Page 10 proposes, “Renovations, improvement of existing and new school facilities, including furniture and equipment and District-wide technology” and the purchase of “pupil transportation vehicles” in the amount of $49.6 million and another $3.8 million for administrative purposes including, “renovation, improvement of existing and new school facilities, including furniture and equipment and District-wide technology.”

We know the district as of its July, 2020 District Submittal to the State of Arizona School Facilities Board (see page 8 of the publicity pamphlet) that the district is not planning to build more classrooms or schools. That leads to the question of why the wording for the funding request says, “of existing and new school facilities?” All of the proposed funding, less the $3.8 million for the district offices, will go toward the 12 existing schools in the district. On average, the expenditure will be about $4.1 million per school. Of course, the expenditures per school will not be equal as some schools are newer than others.

I have given you the information you need to decide how you will vote at the Special Election on November 2, 2020. Please do take the time to vote. The school districts do a good job of getting their “pro” voters to vote. The general voter population doesn’t pay much attention to school district bond elections and tends not to vote.

Local elections are the most important elections in which we should get information and make an informed vote. Local issues are closest to us and affect us more directly. For example, I will have to decide whether I want to pay another $20 a month to the Pendergast School District. That is what you have to figure out as well. Be informed and vote. It’s up to you.

© 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.

Glendale’s Planning Commission has always been one of the most revered of all of Glendale’s volunteer boards and commissions. This commission has gravitas. The professionalism of its citizen volunteers was extraordinary.

While we may not have agreed with all of their recommendations (I certainly haven’t), we respected their decisions. It pains me to offer that people are beginning to say that this commission may be straying into areas outside their mandate.

The purpose of the Planning Commission, per Section 3.102 of the City’s General Code states, The Planning Commission provides analysis and recommendations to The City Council related to the City’s General Plan, for zoning, ordinance amendments, subdivisions, conditional use permits, and other matters affecting land use, and development within the city.” The city’s website says, “To analyze, review and made recommendations to the City Council regarding land use and development related issues. Holds public hearings regarding these issues.”

The public’s general perception is that the Planning Commission hears proposed development proposals and either recommends approval or disapproval to the City Council. Typically, the City Council accepts the Planning Commission’s recommendations but occasionally it doesn’t. In those cases, the City Council may have further exculpatory information or may consider factors that will bear directly on the proposed development.

 

The current Commission members are:

  • Tom Cole representing the Barrell District
  • Vern Crow living in the Sahuaro District and appointed to represent the Cactus District
  • John Crow (not related to Vern Crow) appointed by the Mayor to fill the At-Large position
  • Daniel Heath representing the Sahuaro District
  • Martin Nowakowski representing the Yucca District
  • Edwin Nyberg representing the Cholla District
  • Warren Wilfong representing the Ocotillo District

Hearing concerns about the Planning Commission’s recent performance, I made it a point to watch the Planning Commission meetings of August 5, 2021, and September 2, 2021. For those of you who are unaware, it is quite easy to do. If you go to the city’s website and click on the City Clerk’s page link a menu appears. Click on ‘city council meetings and agendas’. Once there you can pull up just about any city public meeting and click on the video link.

On August 5, 2021, the Planning Commission heard Ambra Residential Minor General Plan Amendment GPA 21-03 and Rezoning Application ZON 21-07. This proposed subdivision is comprised of 45-foot-wide lots. After a period of discussion the proposal was recommended for approval by the Commission. However, some of the Planning Commission members’ comments were questionable.

Commissioner Wilfong characterized those who move into 45-foot-wide lot communities as “transient residents.” He claimed that those who move into these communities do not stay for more than a few years and then move up and away. He suggested that 45-foot-wide lot proposals before the Commission should be “put aside for a while.” Planning Commission Chairperson Vernon Crow stated, “this commission is right on the limit of accepting these very, very small lots.”

Perception is reality and it could be inferred from these Commissioners’ comments that this body would not approve any future developments comprised of 45-foot-wide lots. If that was their intent, it was inappropriate.

At its September 2, 2021, meeting the Planning Commission heard the Hopewell Rezoning Application, ZON 21-16. This proposal is for several industrial buildings in the Loop 303 area. Commissioners discussed everything but the rezoning application. The applicant presented a conceptual plan for the site. It was by no means the final plat as the applicant had not gone through plan review with the Development Department.

They questioned the number of driveways exiting to Alsup Road. They wanted to see the city’s Transportation Department’s and MDOT’s traffic studies. They wanted to see the applicant’s plan for stormwater retention. They wanted to see the height clearance letter from LAFB. None of these items were germane to the applicant’s rezoning request. They were advised by the Interim Planning Director Tabitha Perry that all these issues would be handled during the plan review process and that the conceptual plan presented was not the final plat.

Still not satisfied, Commissioner Nyberg motioned to table the Rezoning Application until October 7, 2021, while requesting all the material the commissioners discussed (and not relevant to the Rezoning request) be provided to the Commissioners. It passed unanimously.

These recent events led me to recall the Planning Commission’s unanimous recommendation of denial for the Rezoning and Major General Plan Amendment for Glen Lakes. Please note not all the current Commissioners were on the Commission in August 2020. It was their right to recommend denial because they felt the project was too dense.

However, part of their discussion centered on the city’s sale price of the land. Again, it was inappropriate to the deliberation of a rezoning and general plan amendment. It appeared as if some Commissioners, unhappy with the sale price, considered that factor, in part, in making their recommendation to the City Council. By the way, this was one of those rare occasions when a majority of City Council did not accept the Planning Commission’s recommendation and approved the rezoning and general plan amendment.

These situations are indicators of a Planning Commission that may have lost its way. Have its members forgotten, or perhaps do not know, their role and responsibilities or what findings are appropriate to consider in granting approval or disapproval? It may be appropriate to have a refresher workshop to review those items. Let’s hope the ‘powers that be’ host just such a workshop. I want to feel confident about our Planning Commission again.

© 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.

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 want to emphasize that these comments reflect my position and do not represent the position of the city council as a whole or that of senior management.

I have received many queries about Glendale’s recent announcement and I wanted to take the opportunity of posting in my blog to share my position on the issue.

On Thursday, August 19, 2021, Glendale issued a Press Release announcing that it would not renew its year-to-year agreement for use of its arena by the Coyotes. Both parties have been operating under a year-to-year agreement for several years. Within the agreement is the stipulation that either party can decide not to renew the agreement for an additional year by providing written notice each year on or before December 31st. Glendale has provided notice to the Coyotes that it has declined to renew this year-to-year agreement. This means that the upcoming season will be the last in our arena, and they must vacate the facility by June 30, 2021.  As a courtesy the city provided notice before December to allow the Coyotes as much time as possible to realign their future.

I have been on city council for over 20 years, during the long and tortuous history of the Coyotes. I was there when the city built the arena. I was there when the city paid the NHL to manage the team for 2 years to keep the team in the state.  Over the years I have supported the Coyotes through 5 different ownerships because I believed they were necessary for the financial vitality of a fledgling Westgate area. I know that Glendale, time and again, took action that kept the Coyotes in Arizona for the past 18 years. Glendale has proven its historical commitment to the Coyotes.

For me, my reasoning is based on a sound, business decision. I am guided by what is best, at this time, for Glendale and its 253,000 residents. This impactful decision was not made hastily or in a vacuum. Input was sought from key stakeholders, the city’s expert economist and our arena management firm. In fact, there will be a positive budgetary impact to the arena and the city with no hockey team or hockey operations taking place.

I bear no animus toward the team or its ownership. In fact, I wish them good luck and much success in their future. They, and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, have repeatedly said they have no future remaining in Glendale and I concur. They believe they will regain their financial health by playing somewhere other than Glendale. That is their belief and their choice.

Westgate has come of age. I believe the Westgate area is successful in its own right. There are limitless and wonderful opportunities for the Sports & Entertainment area turning it into an even greater powerhouse, unparalleled in the Valley. That is my belief and guides my choice.

In 20 years, the Westgate area has grown and matured, earning its present success. Westgate’s Sports & Entertainment District has never been more financially healthy than it is right now. More than a billion dollars of investment has occurred during the past three years. Witness the Crystal Lagoon Island Resort project, Tiger Woods’ Pop Golf project and Tesla’s project. Economic development is booming in the area at an unprecedented level. Over the next year, the city will be announcing many new projects coming to this area. In addition, long time commercial tenants in the area are planning on updating and refreshing their venues.  They know that Westgate is integral to their success. There is a tremendous sense of optimism throughout the area.

Westgate Entertainment District/Yam properties issued the following in support of Glendale’s decision, “The City of Glendale has been a great partner for us, and we support its decisions regarding the arena, said Dan Dahl, Director of Real Estate for YAM properties.”

It’s time to split the blanket. The Coyotes have wanted to do so for several years. Glendale now realizes that it is in their best business interest to agree.

In the coming week I will offer more commentary on this event. Stay tuned.

© 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.

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