Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Glendale council OKs NHL requirements for Coyotes

  • Print

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The return of the NHL to Winnipeg appears to be on hold for another year, as the City of Glendale has agreed to meet the league’s requirements for keeping the Phoenix Coyotes in Arizona for the 2010-2011 season.

Glendale’s seven-member city council voted unanimously tonight to approve a plan spend up to $25 million to hold on to the troubled franchise for another year if the NHL doesn’t find a new buyer dedicated to keeping it in Arizona.

The widely expected move buys Glendale, a western Phoenix suburb with 253,000 people, anywhere from a few more weeks to another year to protect its $180-million investment in Jobing.com Arena, as well as the future of the adjacent Westgate City Center, an 8-million-square foot commercial development.

The cash will not be paid out to the NHL if a new buyer is found, pledged Glendale city manager Ed Beasley, who described the "hypothetical payment" as a fee to the NHL for operating the arena — not an agreement to cover the team’s losses.

Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs called the payment "bridge financing," not an expenditure of public funds. She also expressed annoyance at the criticism directed toward her city.

"This is nothing more than an insurance policy which allows us to move forward," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in an address to council.

A sale to an owner that will keep the Coyotes in Glendale is coming soon, Daly said to cheers from about 250 Coyotes fans inside the Glendale council gallery.

No names were mentioned, but councillors suggested both Ice Edge Holdings and Jerry Reinsdorf remain in the running.
City manager Beasley must now convince financial institutions to extend the city $25 million worth of credit. If he fails to do so, there remains a chance — growing more remote by the day, however — the team could still be moved this year.

Several Coyotes fans who watched the proceedings expressed frustration the team’s financial woes have turned into a soap opera.

Andrew Williams insisted the Coyotes are gaining traction in Arizona and the Coyotes' strong showing at the end of the regular season will only help the team next year.

"Arizona is one of the toughest places for any team," said the Phoenix resident. "The (NFL) Cardinals, one of the oldest teams in sport, took 20 years to develop a fan base."

In an ironic twist, the prospect of the team leaving has some Coyotes concerned Winnipeg hockey fans are acting like vultures.

"The level of hate from Winnipeg people? My god!" said Sueann Canfield. "I think Winnipeg should have a team, but come on. Don’t wish what happened to you to happen to us."

Several dozen fans addressed council to express support for the team, but a minority feared the additional expenditure of public funds — and the appearance the city is being blackmailed by the NHL.

Glendale councillors may not have a choice. Even Cactus Coun. Phil Lieberman, who initially spoke out against the plan as vague and financially irresponsible, said he fears the effects on Westgate Center if the Coyotes leave town and Jobing.com Arena becomes a white elephant.

Retailers and restaurants at the complex depend on the traffic at the games to bring in bodies, as Westgate sits at the western fringe of the Phoenix metropolitan area.

Just before lunch on Tuesday, foot traffic at the complex was light. There was nobody wasting away at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville or any of the other restaurants facing the north entrance to Jobing.com Arena.

That said, businesses in and around Westgate may also pay a price for keeping the team in Glendale. The rescue plan for the Coyotes calls for the creation of a community facilities district, or CFD which would funnel money into the team from area land-owners.

Lieberman compared the CFD to a new tax on businesses and expressed skepticism the district could be set up in time.

Council was told it may go ahead even if a new owner is found for the Coyotes. But all of this may be subject to yet another legal battle.

The Goldwater Institute, an Arizona taxpayers’ watchdog, considers both the creation of a CFD to fund the arena and the proposed bailout plan to be illegal. Arizona law prevents municipalities from providing excessive subsidies to private businesses.

The institute has already taken the City of Glendale to court over its failure to disclose the nature of its negotiations to hold on to the Coyotes. More legal action may take place if the city goes ahead with its plan to cover the Coyotes’ losses.

Last night’s vote took place at the end of 14-item council meeting that also saw Glendale politicians approve matters such as a new liquor licence the Bangkok Thai Bar B Q and the Desert Mirage Golf Course and a contract for a police psychologist.

In Winnipeg, minor issues like this are referred to the Board of Adjustment or community committees.

But the real difference between the Phoenix area and Winnipeg is the number of hockey fans who show up at save-the-franchise rallies.

About 250 Coyotes fans attended Glendale city council tonight. There were several empty seats in the 285-seat gallery. Fifteen years ago this week, on May 16, 1995, about 35,000 people crammed themselves into The Forks to scream "Save the Jets" when it first became apparent the NHL was on its way out of Winnipeg.

 

History

Updated on Monday, May 10, 2010 at 4:19 PM CDT: Adds embedded live video player

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Your top TV picks for this weekend - Aug 29 - Sept 1

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A monarch butterfly looks for nectar in Mexican sunflowers at Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park Monday afternoon-Monarch butterflys start their annual migration usually in late August with the first sign of frost- Standup photo– August 22, 2011   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Local- A large osprey lands in it's nest in a hydro pole on Hyw 59  near the Hillside Beach turnoff turn off. Osprey a large narrow winged hawk which can have a wingspan of over 54 inches are making a incredible recovery since pesticide use of the 1950's and  1960's- For the last two decades these fish hawks have been reappearing in the Lake Winnipeg area- Aug 03, 2005

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What do you think of the new school-zone speed limit?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google