Phoenix Coyotes’ impact isn’t just on the ice in Glendale

This is the RIGHT Glendale. Apologizies to the City of Glendale for me rushing through and previously posting Glendale, CA’s city seal.

The City of Glendale isn’t exactly in the best of financial situations right now. Tax increases are coming, and public spending such as for police and other public services has been cut. It’s not because of mis-management, but let’s face it — America’s economic recovery has been a long and slow process.

What might hinder Glendale’s economic recovery is excess spending… in the form of the Phoenix Coyotes. As Greg Jamison and Gary Bettman carried on their press conference last night, they didn’t let financials slip. Heck, they didn’t let anything official slip, as Jamison and the NHL are still in the negotiating stages of a purchase agreement. It might come in two weeks, it might be two months, whenever — the clock is running down for a sale, and the city counsel will be one of the last hurdles for the franchise to overcome.

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You might well remember the Goldwater Group from the debacle that was the Matthew Hulsizer purchase. They stonewalled the sale because of the sale of $100 million worth of  municipal bonds to fund Hulsizer’s purchase. Goldwater filed suit, and then the City of Glendale filed a countersuit. It was all good and fun, and it scared Hulsizer away/prevented him from from purchasing a franchise that has lost $50 million over the past two seasons. The city’s having to float less with Jamison, but they’re also going to have to work out an arena lease solution, and that’s where it gets sticky.

The City of Glendale will have to pay a fee to Jamison’s group for them to run the arena, and it’s expected that fee will also soften the blow of losses garnered while being owner of the Phoenix Coyotes. Eventually the plan is for the Jamison group to purchase the arena and surrounding parking, meaning that the city won’t have to worry about leasing fees anymore. It’s going to take a while to get to that point, however.

Sportsnet’s Michael Grange has the numbers laid out, and they’re not a pretty picture. According to Grange, Jamison will collect from the city $306 million in arena management fees over the course of 21 years, with Glendale paying $92 million over the first five years. That’s more than the far more profitable Arizona Cardinals’ arena lease.

City councilman Phil Lieberman is not a fan of this, or paying the NHL to stay period. He views the costs outweighing the economic benefits of having the team there, and perhaps they do. It will take years to give the Coyotes the stability that they and their fanbase deserve, and years past that to turn a profit. He estimates that the Coyotes have cost the city around $134 million so far.

As Grange mentions, if this deal’s completed this financial conundrum will just continue for the City of Glendale. If the economy weren’t terrible, you’d hear less outcry. As it stands, the city and its people have to choose between their love of a hockey franchise and their love of city infrastructure. It’s unfair, it’s tough, and someone’s going to suffer in the end thanks to the NHL drawing this process out this long.

Is it right to lay the blame at the Coyotes’ feet for Glendale’s economic austerity necessity? Absolutely not. Do I want the Coyotes to stay in Phoenix? As a former Thrashers fan, I do very much. But when you look at the situation, you have to hope that there’s something more economically viable and productive out there.

About Laura Astorian

Laura Astorian is the head editor for the SB Nation blog St. Louis Game Time and has been a Blues fan from childhood. She promises that any anti-Blackhawks bias will be left at the door. Maybe.

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