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       


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