On September 9, 2014 at its regular council meeting the Glendale City Council approved a new name for its arena. It will now be known as the Gila River Arena. The following day there was a press conference to announce the name change. Anthony LeBlanc, one of the Coyotes’ owners was there; Gregory Mendoza, Governor of the Tribe was there; Jan Brewer, our state Governor was there; and Jerry Weiers, Mayor of Glendale was there.  Guess who wasn’t there? Our infamous “gang of four,” Councilmembers Alvarez, Sherwood, Hugh and Chavira. It’s perfectly understandable. After all, their allegiance is to the Tohono O’odham Nation. Alvarez was also the lone negative vote on the name change to Gila River. Instead she stubbornly questioned staff on the necessity of bringing the name change before council for ratification.  It appeared as if she questioned the action long enough and hard enough she could make the need for a council vote disappear. Didn’t happen. Apparently Norma’s love for minorities does not extend to the Gila River Community.

However, it’s not so strange a move. Gila River has been a long time partner of the Arizona Coyotes hosting the Gila River Club within the arena proper. If I were the Gila River I would be secretly smug and taking enormous satisfaction in the fact that their name will be prominently displayed across the street from their duplicitous sister tribe, the Tohono O’odham’s new casino.

Here’s a reminder that today, Wednesday, September 17, 2014 at 2:30 PM Eastern time, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs will have a legislative hearing on Senate bill 2670, Keep the Promise Act of 2014, introduced by Senators McCain and Flake. It can be viewed online live.  Panel One of the hearing will have Governor Mendoza of the Gila River Indian Community, Ned Norris Jr., Chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation, Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers and Glendale Councilmember Gary Sherwood. It should prove interesting as 2 champions of the casino face off against 2 opponents of the casino. Hopefully, the bill will move out of committee paving the way for a full senate vote.

Considering the fact that Glendale did not recoup its $14,002,055 (not a full fiscal year, prorated for 11 months) paid for the management fee and capital improvement fund and that you can add another $12 million for the arena construction debt, you would think Alvarez would welcome the new Gila River name and the 20% of the fee paid by Gila River to IceArizona. It will offset the approximately $20 million in arena costs, not by much, but every penny is welcome. A lot of Glendale’s residents are anxiously awaiting the audit of IceArizona’s budget and hope it is made public and put on the city’s website. If not, don’t be surprised if there are a lot of FOIA requests for a copy of the audit.

There was no council workshop on Tuesday, September 16, 2014 because there was not a quorum. How many of Glendale’s council is attending the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs legislative hearing today? I guess we’ll find out.

© Joyce Clark, 2014


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