Header image alt text

Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

Coyotes logoThe entire Coyotes ownership saga began with the Glendale city council’s decision to accept Steve Ellman’s proposal for a sports and entertainment district that included the construction of an arena for the express purpose of having the Coyotes as its anchor tenant. Their first game was played in the new arena in 2003. The original lease management agreement did not require a payment to the manager of the arena. That concept died with the Moyes’ bankruptcy in 2009. I was part of the drama until January 15, 2013 as a councilmember. I speak for myself and not for any Glendale elected officials, past or present.

homework 1During my 16 year service on Glendale City Council one of my imperatives was to make decisions that were fully informed. As a councilmember one does that by “doing one’s homework.” That means a commitment to read the material you are provided. Ascertain all of the facts of the proposal. Question staff by asking follow up questions on material not always presented. Talk to people in the industry and talk to the stakeholders, i.e., prospective developers and business owners, and last but certainly not least, one’s constituents by informing them of the facts of the proposal and asking for their comment. You take this vast amount of information and process it through a personal sieve. One overriding parameter is to make a decision that you believe to be in the very best interest of your city, economically and socially.

diff people 2Just as all people are different so, too, are all councilmembers different. During my time on council, I have met some councilmembers who were lazy and didn’t bother to do their homework or who became wedded to a position immediately and would not budge and let facts get in the way. I have even observed some who let personal prejudice determine their position. I have also observed councilmembers who did, in fact, do their homework. Their final position may have been different from mine but that was because their personal framework of reference led them in a different direction. No matter, they earned my respect because they were not swayed by personal prejudice or preference.

city hall 2I was first elected in 1992. I think I can be considered as a Councilmember Emeritus. There are very few of us still living much less living in Glendale. In fact, there are less than a dozen. There are former Mayors Renner and Scruggs, Councilmembers Heatwole, Tolby, McAllister (living out-of-state), Eggleston, Frate, Goulette, Lieberman (living out-of state) and myself. Former Councilmember Hugh is serving once again and former Mayor Klass and former Councilmember Huffman are deceased.

mallarrowhead02From that perspective one has to appreciate Glendale’s recent history. Prior to the 1980’s Glendale was an unremarkable town that offered residents a quiet, hometown quality of life. In the early 1990’s we had an opportunity to create the first major economic engine in the city – the Bell Road Corridor to be anchored by Arrowhead Mall.  I was present for the signing of the beam that was used in the construction of Arrowhead Mall, the anchor tenant for the area.   Glendale had its first major economic engine.

Glitters_lightsGlendale’s second major economic engine became its downtown in the mid 1990’s with the advent of its first, annual major festival, Glendale Glitters and its synergy as an antique center in the state. Since then, downtown commercial has diversified. It is still not all that anyone envisions it can be but it continues to make progress. Its major anchor tenant could be considered City Hall, the Civic Center and the investment the city continues to make in hosting major downtown events. Glendale has its second major economic engine.

Courtesy Christopher B.

Courtesy Christopher B.

In the early 2000’s another opportunity for a third major economic engine was created with the relocation of the Coyotes Hockey team and the construction of Jobing.com arena for the team. The national economy was humming and I and the rest of council were planning for Glendale’s future. The city created a new zoning classification, “Sports and Entertainment District” and Westgate was born. Nearly all of the land surrounding the original core of Westgate to date has been approved with the Sports and Entertainment zoning classification and with Westgate’s and the arena’s stability there will be a surge of development. I won’t relate the history of the arena and the team from 2003 to the present for that has been covered in my other postings.

question 4Today uncertainty about Coyotes ownership and the fate of Jobing.com arena still swirls. Many have asked me for my personal assessment. There is the Beacon RFP and how it plays. There is the current crop of prospective owners: Jamison, LeBlanc/Gosbee, Pastor, Hulsizer and Reinsdorf/Kaites. Do not ignore the non-hockey bids to manage the arena: Global Spectrum, AEG and IFG. They cannot be discounted as players. I am not going to comment at this time and when I do it will be through the prism of what I, personally, believe is good for Glendale. There will be plenty of time to dissect the situation after decisions are made. It’s time to let this situation play out. I think the NHL has come to a decision and it would not surprise me to hear the announcement next week. That much is logical. Whomever the NHL has blessed must get a submission together to respond to the Beacon RFP by May 24. The finish line is in view and the winner is…?



Courtesy of
Goldwater Institute

On March 14, 2013 the Center for Media and Democracy in conjunction with Arizona Working Families issued A Reporter’s Guide to the Goldwater Institute: What Citizens, Policymakers and Reporters Should Know. It can be found at this site:  http://www.prwatch.org/news/2013/03/12021/reporters-guide-goldwater-institute.

While I was serving on Glendale’s city council there were several lawsuits filed by the Goldwater Institute (GWI) against the city. The first dated back to June of 2009 and contended that the city was refusing to release documents relating to its negotiations with various entities wishing to purchase the Coyotes and to secure a lease management agreement. GWI felt every scrap of paper should be a public document. The final agreement was that the city would release all documents it felt would not harm its negotiating position and if that should be the case, a judge, in camera, would review them and make a final decision.

Then about two years later, in March of 2011, Goldwater having reviewed more than 1,000 of the city’s documents as a result of the previous court decision, filed suit to subvert the Hulsizer deal to buy the Coyotes. It contended that the city was offering a subsidy in violation of Arizona’s Gift Clause statute. There was never a decision in this case as the city and Hulsizer could not finalize a deal.

When this report was issued I was eager to read its findings. I suspect that the practices of GWI are not so different from other public policy non-profits whether they are liberal or conservative. These types of non-profits are often shielded by federal government regulations making it difficult to obtain a complete and accurate picture of their financial dealings.

I find that to be ironic. The same organization that sued the City of Glendale for a lack of transparency is habitually not so transparent itself. It seems they don’t mind letting the public know about some, not all, of their sources of funding but they certainly don’t want you to know too much about how they get their money or spend it.

Another irony is GWI’s persistent attack on only one sport venue in the state – Glendale’s Jobing.com Arena and its use by the Coyotes. Lord knows, there have been sweetheart deals aplenty with other sports venues. Yet Goldwater never raised an eyebrow. I have often wondered if the close relationship of some board members with the baseball industry was a motivator. Perhaps, in the minds of some, there are too many sports teams all competing for the same public discretionary dollar. Taking out a major sports team could benefit the remaining teams. When a team is weak, as the Coyotes have been for multiple years, that makes it a perfect target for elimination.

Briefly the findings of this report do highlight some questionable practices:

  •  The Goldwater Institute is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC is funded by corporations and its sole purpose is to craft and advocate for bills favorable to big business interests exclusively. The relationship between these two organizations appears to be very, very close. Often the very issues that GWI is advocating for coincidentally happen to be part of ALEC’s agenda.
Darcy Olsen 2

Darcy Olsen
Courtesy of
Goldwater Institute


Clint Bolick
Courtesy of
Goldwater Institute

  • Despite a very modest growth in GWI’s income it substantially raised its top executive’s salaries disproportionately to that growth in revenue. Darcy Olson’s Executive Director salary jumped from $180,000 to $268,000 by 2011; Clink Bolick’s Director of Litigation salary went from $126,000 in 2007 to $300,000 by 2011.


  • Up to $1.9M has been approved as a loan by the GWI board to one of its board members, Norman McClelland, a GWI founder and past president, for his private, for-profit company, Shamrock Farm Co Investing.
  • Goldwater claimed to the IRS in 2010 that it spent $0 on grassroots or direct lobbying. Yet is has two registered lobbyists, Starlee Rhoades, Vice President, and Lucy Caldwell, Communications Director. Gallagher & Kennedy, a Public Affairs firm, is representing GWI as an active lobbyist this year.
  • GWI does not publicly disclose its largest donors, although most public policy non-profits do.  A majority of GWI’s funding comes from and  its largest donors happen to be out-of-state foundations with specialized agendas.
Barry Goldwater

Barry Goldwater

Barry Goldwater  became the Institute’s namesake. Recently Susan Goldwater expressed public concerns in the media about the GWI by saying, “(W)hat he didn’t like was seeing it turn into a special interest, big-business lobbying group.” I suspect Barry Goldwater is rolling in his grave as he sees what the Institute has morphed into.

Perhaps this “big-business lobbying group” should add as an agenda item how it can advance the cause of big-business sports teams and their venues. After all, according to GWI, all big-business is good business.




jobing.com arenaWhat does it cost to run an arena like Glendale’s Jobing.com? You would have better luck in searching for the Holy Grail than in gathering this kind of information. A majority of sports venues nationally are publicly built and privately run. In a few cases where the venue was financed by a public-private partnership there is usually a mechanism to repay the private entity for its initial investment in the construction of the facility. The private entities that actually operate and maintain these venues consider their information as proprietary.

There are two organizations that might be able to shed more light, the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) and the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM).  I have learned that the IAVM conducted a survey of the operating expenses of sports venues throughout the country. It was due for release in December, 2012. However, one must be a member of this organization to access the survey. Alas and alack, I am not. If there are industry-wide benchmarks for sports venue operating and maintenance costs they are not available.

However, we can look at the following report, Comparison of Operating Costs for Similar Arenas, issued January, 2012. It was prepared by TLHocking & Associates LLC for the City of Glendale. Some will immediately discount the information it contains because it was a commissioned study paid for by the City and therefore it must be biased in favor of making a case for the City. Consultancy firms rely upon their reputation in their field to be considered for work. They make every effort to protect the integrity of their work. The City used TLHocking when considering the construction of the arena but I believe the firm tried to present facts without interpretation in this survey.

I did want to offer some quotes from page 2 of the study, “The information on comparative arena costs provided in this report was gathered from research of public information and relevant websites as well as from information provided voluntarily on a confidential basis by the representatives of specific venues.” And “…this report reflects the operating costs only without any offsets of operating revenues or contributions and/or subsidies from other parties

Arena No. 1 is publicly owned and privately operated. It is unnamed because its information is proprietary. It has a single anchor tenant an NHL hockey team and has about the same seating capacity as Jobing.com arena. Its figures reflect total annual operating costs                                                            including non-hockey events (TLHocking, p.3).

question mark

Calendar Year                       Annual Operating Costs

2007                                         $17,128,903

2008                                         $19,662,754

2009                                         $19,429,994

2010                                         $14,655,899

2011 Estimate                           $16,610,087

2012 Budget                             $16,538,291


nationwide-arenaNationwide Arena was privately financed and is managed by a contract with Ohio State University. The costs range from a low of $10.1M to a high of $13.8M annually.

The Sacramento Entertainment and Sports Complex is publicly owned and privately operated.  The costs range from a low of $11.8M to a high of $14.9M annually (TLHocking, pp. 4-5)

On pages 5 and 6 of the TLHocking study it describes Conseco Fieldhouse, home to the Indiana Pacers. The TLHocking study obtained a 2010 major study prepared by Hunden Strategic Partners entitled “Impact of the Indiana Pacers.” It demonstrated that the Pacers were important to the venue and stated that the operating costs with the Pacers averaged $17.4M a year and without the Pacers averaged $21.1M a year. But the more relevant part of the Hunden study created aConseco_Fieldhouse benchmark cost for running an arena based on the cost per seat. The HSP study was based on NBA facilities but it is also relevant for NHL facilities.  The TLHocking study on page 6 quotes from the Hunden survey, “HSP studied a number of large, NBA facilities (or those that are NBA-ready) and observed that revenue and expenses vary but generally follow a line with an average $777 per seat with an average deviation of seven percent, suggesting a reasonable operating expense per seat of $722 to $831 per seat. The estimated expenses at Conseco are $819 per seat, six percent above the average of this sample and within the average range of costs.”

The use of a per seat cost seems to be the most accurate measure of arena operating costs. Based upon the figures used in the HSP study using the seating capacity of Jobing.com publiclyLiberty-Seat- listed as 17,799 and an average cost per seat of $777 the cost of operating Jobing.com would be $13,829,823. It then seems reasonable to peg any lease management agreement for Jobing.com arena at $14M annually with some kind of CIP escalator included.

I promised to offer information on the MOU for the Seattle Sports and Entertainment Facility. That will have to wait for another day.I have done enough research for today.