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.

For those rabid fans who become offended every time I post a blog on the Coyotes…sit on it.

The Coyotes played 15 seasons in Glendale and like it or not, Glendale (and I) are now part of their history.

Recently it was reported that the Tempe city council may very well approve the deal and then establish a referendum vote of its citizens to approve or deny the council decision. What does this mean? It appears the city council will approve the deal but it needs ‘cover’ for its approval. By having a referendum of the people on this issue, it offers the council an ‘out’ if its residents do not approve the deal.

There will be plenty of support from the business community who, bless their greedy hearts, are already hearing the cha-ching of their cash registers. Count on them to pour money into a slick campaign to convince voters that this proposed deal is the second coming.

What makes this possible referendum vote so interesting is that there are approximately 101,822 registered voters in Tempe out of a total population of 184,361 residents. In the last election, 21,338 registered voters voted. That’s about 20% or 1/5 of the total number of registered voters. I wonder how many of those 20,000+ of those likely voters are avid Coyotes fans willing to throw taxpayer dollars at yet another sports franchise? The purported 5,000 fans attending games at the Mullett Arena? Obviously, not all the attendees reside in Tempe. An interesting question is how many Tempe residents attended?

If there is a referendum vote it will come down to two issues:


Make no mistake, this is all about money and who stands to gain and who stands to lose. Obviously, the Coyotes hope to make a ton of money utilizing public funding. It’s going to cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $70 million just to clean up the old landfill site. Muerelo will invest $40 million to clean up the site but where does the other $30 million come from? The City of Tempe will have to issue $30 million in bonds. That’s $30 million that could be used for parks, public safety, etc. Of the anticipated $430 million generated in new sales taxes, Muerelo would keep half (approximately $215 million) as reimbursement for cleaning up the site.

The Coyotes also want a 30-year property tax exemption on the arena, practice facility and theater. In addition, they want an 8-year property tax exemption on the hotels, office, retail and residential.

Arizona House of Representatives Athena Salman, representing Tempe, said these requests total $649 million (over half a billion dollars) in tax abatements for the Coyotes. While Moms see grocery bills skyrocketing and everyone sees gas at the pump hovering around $4.50 a gallon.


There is concern on the part of Sky Harbor Airport about the proposed apartment complexes at the site. Recently the airport sent fliers to residents in Phoenix, Tempe and Scottsdale advising them that the airport may have to change its current flight paths. This move could end up shifting routes over currently unaffected neighborhoods. The noise from the aircraft will be nothing compared to the noise generated by affected residents.

To placate citizens Tempe is hosting a series of meetings. The first was hosted by, wait for it, the Coyotes, on October 15th at 11 a.m. I wonder how many residents took time off from work to attend this one. The next three meetings are hosted by Tempe at its Development Review Board meeting on November 15th, and two city council meetings on November 22nd and 29th. Residents’ time to speak is usually limited to 3 to 5 minutes. Not quite a fair fight.

It comes down to two basic questions for Tempe voters. Are Tempe residents willing to subsidize a sports franchise for $649 million dollars? Are residents willing to live with altered Sky Harbor flight paths that could destroy their quality of life?

If a referendum vote occurs, I guess we’ll find out.

As a side note, I heard from several people who attended the first several Coyotes games at the Mullett Arena. All said there were empty seats. One person revealed that actual ticket sales were around 3,000 out of a total of 5,000. Over 1,000 tickets were ‘comp-ed’. That would explain why there were empty seats. It’s one thing to plunk down $100 (or more) for a seat. You would make sure your money wasn’t wasted and would attend. Not so with free tickets. You may or may not, attend.

Make no mistake. Despite their hype, it appears that the Coyotes are losing money. I guess they can afford to do so if their pot of gold becomes a reality in Tempe. What if the deal falls through? Someone told me, they have a back-up plan. Oh, really?

© Joyce Clark, 2022      


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