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Goldwater Institute Seeks Restraining Order

from Cecilia Chan of the Arizona Republic,

An economist and an attorney told Glendale leaders Thursday a proposed $325 million Phoenix Coyotes lease agreement would benefit the city financially and pass legal scrutiny, hours before officials for a watchdog group said they will go to court Friday to try to stop a council vote on the deal.

It will cost less for Glendale to keep the Coyotes than to let them go, according to economist Jill Welch, who placed the savings at $17.8 million over the 20 years of an agreement with proposed buyer Greg Jamison.

continued

added 1:22pm, from ABC 15,

A judge has denied a motion for a temporary restraining order against a Friday morning vote deciding the fate of the Phoenix Coyotes.

The Glendale City Council is scheduled to vote at 10:15 a.m. on a $425 million lease agreement that will clear the way for the Coyotes sale and keep the team in Glendale.

continued

added 1:30pm, from Mike Sunnucks of the Phoenix Business Journal,

Goldwater Institute attorney Carrie Ann Sitren said after the hearing that a judge still could block the vote after it occurs. She said the city is not cooperating with requests from the institute to get more details about the deal.
“We absolutely will challenge the vote if it is passed,” she said. That is likely to happen Monday morning, she added.

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, d, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Comments

mrfluffy's avatar

This whole thing is getting ridiculous…

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 06/08/12 at 01:34 PM ET

awould's avatar

Goldwater needs to let the City vote on the deal and THEN proceed with their legal action. Right now, they’re just trying to interfere.

If they believe the deal is unconstitutional then sue once the deal is in place. Until it’s in place, it is not unconstitutional, it’s just a lot of talk.

And until a judge declares it invalid, the deal is valid. It bothers me that so many think that just because Goldwater says it is unconstitutional, then it must be. The amount of bad reporting on this is reaching epic proportions and somehow people actually believe Goldwater is some do-gooder enterprise out to help the common taxpayer and not a bought-and-paid-for lobbying arm of Grover Norquist and Co. that somehow maintains tax-exempt non-profit status.

And I’m not saying they’re wrong on the big picture, but they keep pushing this and it’s getting ridiculous how far they’re fudging numbers and playing politics to keep any deal from happening. Clearly they’re not just concerned w/ the constitutionality of the deal, but something bigger (like getting free press, notoriety and donations).

Posted by awould on 06/08/12 at 02:06 PM ET

Paul's avatar

I added to the blog, judge denies motion from Goldwater Institute.

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 06/08/12 at 02:24 PM ET

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The city is voting on the contract now after the R/O was rejected.

Posted by timbits on 06/08/12 at 02:52 PM ET

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It is amazing what passes for leadership from elected officials nowadays.  If the team stays, Glendale projects LOSING 7.9 mil a year… and that’s the option they are going with because their other assumption is just operating the arena and letting it sit vacant beyond other current tenants, which would cost them… 8.8 mil a year?

Present-day politics in motion.

Man, I bet local taxpayers are just loving the thought of subsidizing both the Coyotes (which are a mess) and the City Council (which appears to be an equally big mess) going forward.

What a bunch of mow-rons.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 06/08/12 at 03:29 PM ET

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Man, I bet local taxpayers are just loving the thought of subsidizing both the Coyotes (which are a mess) and the City Council (which appears to be an equally big mess) going forward.

So, what are the other options?  You said it yourself.  Subsidizing the Coyotes, and Keeping the team in Glendale is a better deal for the City of Glendale then letting them leave.

I am sure no one is happy with the situation, but it exists, and has to be dealt with some how.  If subsidizing the team is the least expensive option, then the City Council is doing the right thing for its citizens, regardless of what the Goldwater Institute is saying.

Posted by jwad on 06/08/12 at 03:52 PM ET

wolverine's avatar

So, what are the other options?  You said it yourself.  Subsidizing the Coyotes, and Keeping the team in Glendale is a better deal for the City of Glendale then letting them leave.

Not going to happen but the other option is to have the NHL lower it’s asking price of $170 million ( I think?).  Forbes pegs the Coyotes worth at $134 million.  But they have Glendale by the short hairs in that they could get the $170 million and more if they were to move to Quebec.

Posted by wolverine on 06/08/12 at 04:01 PM ET

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So, what are the other options?

Come on.  If running the arena costs them 7.8 million dollars a year, here’s what you do.

YOU SELL THE ARENA.

This is not exactly rocket science.  If you can’t afford to run it (and they can’t), and you can’t afford to subsidize someone to stay there just so things look busy (and they can’t), you have to let the asset go.

Based on the idiotic way they present these things, apparently, selling the arena would be a ‘savings’ of 7.8 mil a year plus whatever they could get for the property PLUS the benefit of being able to lift local taxes designed to float the arena in the first place.

Alternatively, and I know this is something that rarely if ever happens in present-day politics, mayyyyyyybe the City of Glendale should look into, oh I don’t know, some ways to cut costs with regards to operating the facility.

Given that the Coyotes are a 10+ million dollar loser a year as a franchise, the arena is worth more with them out of it and an open calendar than with them in it soaking up 100+ days a year having to maintain an ice surface.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 06/08/12 at 04:22 PM ET

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Forbes pegs the Coyotes worth at $134 million

The NHL has no plans on losing money on the transaction. They have $170 m in on the purchase from the bankruptcy court. The city has subsidized 2 years of operations so the league is held harmless. That is the best deal the city can get and keep the team.

Posted by timbits on 06/08/12 at 04:22 PM ET

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YOU SELL THE ARENA

Who is going to buy an arena for $250 million with no anchor tenant and having to split concerts with US Air Arena. Your math doesn’t work. The city still owes the bonds, they don’t own it free and clear. Also the loss of the taxes from a failed Westgate Center. There is no option for the city.

Posted by timbits on 06/08/12 at 04:24 PM ET

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Not going to happen but the other option is to have the NHL lower it’s asking price of $170 million ( I think?).  Forbes pegs the Coyotes worth at $134 million.  But they have Glendale by the short hairs in that they could get the $170 million and more if they were to move to Quebec.

Sort of separate issues there.  I was referring to what options the Glendale City Council Have.  Their choices are essentially to lose a lot of money, or, lose even larger lot of money.  Somehow they are being criticized for choosing to loose the lower amount of money.  Maybe they should never have gotten the team, im not even sure anyone on the current city council voted for that deal.  the point is, they are making the best of the current situation.  That hardly seems like a lack of leadership, or poor service to the tax payers.

Glendale isnt buying the team, so the asking price isnt directly related.  Maybe with a lower asking price would mean that the buyer wouldnt need as many concessions from the City of Glendale in the arena lease, but thats not definite. 

Besides the value of the team, or ticket sales or revenue in Glendale vs any other potential city, I think the NHL has an interest in keeping the team there, and not just burning bridges on their way out of town.  The city built them a brand new arena, and has some serious debt as a result.  Its not a good move for the NHL to walk away and leave them hanging.  Basically any new arena has to be publicly financed these days, and how do you convince cities to do that if your gonna walk away a few years later?

Posted by jwad on 06/08/12 at 04:30 PM ET

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Who is going to buy an arena for $250 million with no anchor tenant and having to split concerts with US Air Arena. Your math doesn’t work. The city still owes the bonds, they don’t own it free and clear. Also the loss of the taxes from a failed Westgate Center. There is no option for the city.

They don’t have to sell the arena for 250 million. 

Think about this for a second.  The CoG is thinking about putting themselves on the hook to bleed out nearly 8 mil a year FOREVER.  And that 8 mil is almost certainly a generously low projection.

In 5 years that’s 40 million bled out.  In 10, 80.  In 15, 120.  In the 20 year term of the deal, 160.

So, first off, the arena ‘only’ cost 220 to build, not 250.  Glendale could sell the place for 180 and be at a break even point in 5 years, 140 and be at break even in 10, or 100 and be at break even in 15.  They could freaking give it away at 60 mil and net out by deals end.  This is, of course, ‘break even’ relative to their best-case scenario of having the Coyotes in house and ‘only’ losing 8 mil a year.  If you use their 9 mil a year non-hockey number that obviously accelerates the equalization calendar.  And every single tenant they draw in to replace the Coyotes drives that number down, as well.

And that’s if the city ‘only’ loses the projected 8 mil a year on the team.  And the next time a loss projection comes in on target or low for a city-funded enterprise likely will be the first time it’s ever happened.

There are TONS of options for the city, but unfortunately their absolutely abysmal decision-making up to this point hasn’t left them with a lot of good ones.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 06/08/12 at 05:05 PM ET

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So, first off, the arena ‘only’ cost 220 to build, not 250.  Glendale could sell the place for 180 and be at a break even point in 5 years, 140 and be at break even in 10, or 100 and be at break even in 15.

What would be the source of income for someone to buy the arena?  The Coyotes will be gone without this deal, Westgate closes down without the Coyotes. There is no market for an empty arena.

Posted by timbits on 06/08/12 at 05:38 PM ET

awould's avatar

Posted by HockeyinHD on 06/08/12 at 04:05 PM ET

Besides this idea that they can just sell it, what are the other “tons of options” they have?

Here’s a recent blurb about selling it:
Glendale has not ruled out the possibility of selling the arena to a potential Coyotes buyer. Jamison’s group, and perhaps others interested in the team, would like to buy the arena and Westgate City Center too.

To get out from under its arena debt, Glendale would need to sell the facility for at least $152 million, which is its principal on the arena loan, Glendale spokeswoman Jen Stein said.

She said city staffers would “consider and review any proposals.”

The key phrase is “to a potential Coyotes buyer”.  Because nobody else would be interested in buying an arena with no anchor and no hope. The holding costs alone would make it hard to justify. And what’s the upside? I work in real estate and there are entire retail centers going dark because Basha’s closed their grocery store - no anchor is bad news for any retail project, no matter the size. A Harkins Theater and 8 Cardinals games a year isn’t going to be enough to keep Westgate alive.

So that’s the other half of the problem - lose Coyotes, lose Westgate. Doesn’t matter if they sell the arena. With no anchor, they very likely lose Westgate. And right now, that’s the point.

Posted by awould on 06/08/12 at 05:49 PM ET

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Alternatively, what would be the source of income for someone to buy a team that routinely loses 10+ million bucks a year and will do in perpetuity?

If the NHL actually sold the team at market value instead of trying to stick up the CoG because they look like the biggest suckers in the room, an incoming owner wouldn’t have to suck 8 mil a year out of the city to be solvent, in all likelihood.

Glendale spent 220 back in 2003 to build the place, so it’s not even like the arena is worth 220 now almost a decade after construction.  If you take that into account, Glendale’s got an asset maybe valued at 120-160 mil that they’re talking about spending another 160 mil over 20 years, just to keep open.

In other words, they could sell the asset for 1 dollar and not lose any less than they are GUARANTEED to lose over 20 years now.  And that loss amount is most likely low.

The phrase ‘throwing good money after bad’ springs immediately to mind.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 06/08/12 at 05:53 PM ET

awould's avatar

What’s market value? Forbes value of the team is what it’s worth in it’s current condition. It’s current condition is very low due to lots of mismanagement over the years and, most recently, an owner in the NHL who isn’t doing much to enhance it’s value as it waits for a buyer.

That gives it an upside that a buyer believes they can exploit - manage it effectively and the value will turn around. There is a long list of franchises that were brought from rags to riches in all 4 major sports. So that buyer brings together other investors who believe in this plan and that’s where the money comes from. And the difference between the Coyotes and an empty arena is that one is a real live business while the other is a vacant special-purpose property with a very limited use.

The sale price would likely be higher if the NHL sold the team with permission to relocate it. The right question to ponder is why doesn’t the NHL sell the team for the Forbes market value if it helps keep the franchise in Phoenix, which is what the NHL states as a high priority. Unfortunately, Glendale doesn’t have any control over that. They’re in a completely untenable position - they have zero leverage over anyone in this transaction, and there are no good options, only bad options or worse options.

Posted by awould on 06/08/12 at 06:07 PM ET

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To get out from under its arena debt, Glendale would need to sell the facility for at least $152 million, which is its principal on the arena loan, Glendale spokeswoman Jen Stein said.

They don’t want to lose their 152 mil in capital… so they are going to guarantee to spend 160 mil over 20 years instead?  At which time they will almost certainly be in the exact same situation, except with a 28 year old building that’s not worth a dime?  Assuming the Coyotes don’t leave for greener pastures at some time in the future anyway?

L.
O.
L.

They are being as idiotic as the NHL is regarding trying to sell the Coyotes.  They could give the building away for a single red cent and still lose less than their best case scenario right now.

So that’s the other half of the problem - lose Coyotes, lose Westgate. Doesn’t matter if they sell the arena. With no anchor, they very likely lose Westgate. And right now, that’s the point.

Again, you’re talking about throwing endless, and I literally mean endless, good money after bad just to avoid facing a fairly obvious, if stark, reality.

Really, what is Westgate worth to Glendale right now?  it seems like this is just a circular argument.  We can’t lose Westgate, so we need to keep the Coyotes.  We can’t lose the Coyotes, or else we’d lose Westgate.

Whoopdee-freaking do.  Did I miss something about how thriving either Westgate or the Coyotes were to justify 8+ million bucks a year in subsidies just to keep around?  In your real estate experience do you run into a lot of situations where local communities pony up to keep their strip malls and shopping areas open?

No?  Would that be because by and large those kind of retail centers are literally a dime a dozen?

The issue here is, if I had to guess, that a bunch of local pols are trying to cover their asses because I’d bet they were the same ones that pushed through Jobing, Westgate, and everything else along with the all and sundry taxes that went along with it.  To have it fail spectacularly would cost them all their gigs, as it should, to be honest.

So their answer is to try and paper over their previously stupid decision with future tax revenue and hope no-one notices.

Well, good luck with that.  8 million dollars could fix some roads, hire some teachers, build some schools, fund some police and fire departments.  I hope they love all those strip mall stores in Westgate and their 12k a year attended hockey team.

Good plan, Glendale!  Idiots.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 06/08/12 at 06:09 PM ET

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What’s market value?

The most they could get for the team.  They are trying to force the Coyotes to stay in Phoenix so they are killing the franchises value as a result, in addition to putting Glendale in an awful position.

Not that Glendale would be in a better position otherwise, of course, but they made their own bed when they stupidly designed things as they have.  Were the NHL to do the smart thing and sell the Coyotes to the higher real bidder regardless of location, it would at least free up Glendale to make the smartest business decision they could with Jobing.

Glendale is going to be screwed either way.  Nothing anyone does can avoid that now.  They made too many awful decisions earlier, and there is no real way to get out of it.  So the question is whether Glendale decides to waste 160 million bucks of taxpayers money over 20 years or some amount less than that of taxpayers money over a shorter time frame.

If nothing else gigantic boondoggles like this should be a cautionary tale to future municipalities regarding the fickle nature of asset management and planning, but since I’ve seen stupid decisions like the ones Glendale is currently bungling repeated over and over again all across the country, I’m not exactly holding my breath.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 06/08/12 at 06:23 PM ET

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As a quick note, I just went to the Westgate website and checked it out.  They have around 50 retail spaces.  23 of them are already vacant and available for lease.

What, exactly, does keeping the Coyotes around ‘save’ with regards to Westgate?  An already almost half-empty retail space?  Woohoo!

Posted by HockeyinHD on 06/08/12 at 06:33 PM ET

awould's avatar

If nothing else gigantic boondoggles like this should be a cautionary tale to future municipalities regarding the fickle nature of asset management and planning,

I agree completely.

23 of them are already vacant and available for lease.

What, exactly, does keeping the Coyotes around ‘save’ with regards to Westgate?  An already almost half-empty retail space?  Woohoo!

Gasp! The center hasn’t maintained full occupancy through the worst economic times anyone under the age of 70 has ever lived through! May as well throw in the towel, I guess.

Were the NHL to do the smart thing and sell the Coyotes to the higher real bidder regardless of location, it would at least free up Glendale to make the smartest business decision they could with Jobing.

The smartest things Glendale can do is to keep the Coyotes. The only people who don’t understand that are people who don’t understand the economics behind the deal, or disagree with it for philosophical/political reasons.

We can’t lose Westgate, so we need to keep the Coyotes.  We can’t lose the Coyotes, or else we’d lose Westgate.

The word is symbiotic. Or in business-speak, synergy. It’s an actual thing that smart folks consider when developing large scale mixed use projects. In this case though, the arena is the key to the whole thing.

And your entire premise of selling the building ignores the fact that there is no one interested in buying it, probably at any price. The list of potential tenants is exactly zero if the Coyotes lose.  The City is willing to take a loss on the arena to bolster up other areas. It’s sort of like a loss leader. It’s very typical for an anchor tenant to get a sweet deal due to their positive impact on the rest of the project. That it hasn’t worked out in this case is mostly due to the economy, which ain’t exactly the fault of Glendale. You won’t get any argument from me that it was a mistake in the first place, but it is what it is and the best path for them is to minimize their losses going forward. Basically, the city is too far down the path, and they got there real quick when they agreed to build the place ten years ago.

The other thing your argument ignores is the potential for success if the team stays. If the team goes, it is doom/gloom no matter what. If they stay, the City minimizes its losses at worst. At best, the team turns things around through a good ownership group and competent management, and they sell more tickets, bringing in a million fans a season instead of 600k, which is a whole lot more money all around for everyone.

Posted by awould on 06/08/12 at 07:28 PM ET

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Council just approved the deal on a 4-2 vote. Ownership by Jamison now needs BOG approval to be final.

Posted by timbits on 06/08/12 at 08:30 PM ET

awould's avatar

Excellent. I assume the BOG will approve.

I’m very curious to see what happens next when Goldwater sues. I just hope it gets through the initial court rulings quickly.

Posted by awould on 06/08/12 at 08:36 PM ET

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I’m very curious to see what happens next when Goldwater sues. I just hope it gets through the initial court rulings quickly.

A lot of people have accused Bettman of lots of things, but being a bad lawyer isn’t one of them. The entire negotiation and contract is based on the assumption of a GI lawsuit, witnessed by one of the council members comments about the contract meeting requirements of the gift clause in the state constitution.

Posted by timbits on 06/08/12 at 08:45 PM ET

Paul's avatar

from Mike Sunnucks of Phoenix Business Journal,

The Glendale City Council approved a controversial arena management fee this afternoon for prospective Phoenix Coyotes buyer Greg Jamison. It will cost the city roughly $300 million over 20 years to hand over the management of Jobing.com Arena.

The Glendale council voted 4-2 in favor of the deal, which pays Jamison’s investment group about $15 million annually to run city-owned Jobing.com Arena.

The deal will be challenged next week in court by the Goldwater Institute   . Jamison also still needs to come up with the money to buy the Coyotes before the team’s sale is complete.

continued

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 06/08/12 at 08:57 PM ET

awould's avatar

Posted by timbits on 06/08/12 at 07:45 PM ET

I’ve made that same argument, that Goldwater showed their cards w/ the Hulsizer deal. I believe their only real argument is that the management fee is over what the market would pay, thereby making it an illegal gift. This is a tough thing to prove, in my opinion, as it requires them to successfully argue that their assumptions are more realistic than the assumptions utilized by the city.

I’ve been involved in issues of commercial property valuations that have gone to trial and it can get pretty ridiculous just arguing factors that impact value between a couple of appraisers on a small retail center, much less the complexity of a gigantic entertainment project like Jobing.com.

The gist is, you never know what the judge will do, but I do think the NHL has put themselves on solid ground.

Posted by awould on 06/08/12 at 10:05 PM ET

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The gist isyou never know what the judge will do, but I do think the NHL has put themselves on solid ground

I agree and this is a great step towards putting the Gretzky/Moyes/Balsillie nightmare in the rearview mirror.

Posted by timbits on 06/08/12 at 10:19 PM ET

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Gasp! The center hasn’t maintained full occupancy through the worst economic times anyone under the age of 70 has ever lived through! May as well throw in the towel, I guess.

Indeed.  Because as we all know, having 23 of 50 spaces open is certainly just a smidge south of full occupancy.

Again, if a big reason that the Coyotes are important is to preserve Westgate, and Westgate is already just about half dead, that rationale doesn’t exactly strike me as terribly persuasive.  And by the way, we’re not exactly talking about high end occupants in there right now.  There’s a Verizon store, a Coldstrone, a Johnny Rockets, and a solid dozen other proprietors that are strip mall caliber.

The smartest things Glendale can do is to keep the Coyotes. The only people who don’t understand that are people who don’t understand the economics behind the deal, or disagree with it for philosophical/political reasons.

Of course.  It can’t be that someone might mayyyyybe think throwing away 160+ million because they don’t want to lose 152 million is, you know, sort of a bad investment.  Oh, and the Coldstrone Cremery.  And the Tully’s Coffee.  Or the Oecan Blue Frozen Yogurt shop.  Why, those are all landmarks.

Yeah.  It must take one of those starship-class brains to make that work out to be rational. wink

The word is symbiotic. Or in business-speak, synergy. It’s an actual thing that smart folks consider when developing large scale mixed use projects. In this case though, the arena is the key to the whole thing.

So what’s the business-speak for the thing where two things depend on each other to survive, but neither is surviving anyway?  Oh, I remember: bleeping stupid business.

And your entire premise of selling the building ignores the fact that there is no one interested in buying it, probably at any price. The list of potential tenants is exactly zero if the Coyotes lose.  The City is willing to take a loss on the arena to bolster up other areas. It’s sort of like a loss leader. I

Except a loss leader requires driving profits elsewhere to make up for the loss leader.  Is it your contention that Glendale is going to make anywhere near 8+ million bucks a year off of 30 retail stores surrounding an arena that draws, maybe, 12k fans 41 times a year?

As far as their not being an interested buyer, that’s entirely possible.  Again, it’s a win for Glendale financially if they can GIVE THE THING AWAY.  If the arena is such a gigantic swirling vortex of suck that it’s completely impossible to make it into a revenue neutral venture sans Coyotes, and the Coyotes themselves are impossible to make into a revenue-neutral venture… what is Glendale trying to accomplish here, exactly?

This deal makes as much sense and slitting your wrists and then demanding the hospital give you continuous blood transfusions without actually stopping the bleeding in the first place.

What’s the magical endgame?  That someday the Coyotes won’t be losing 10 million bucks a year, even though they’ve lost that much (and sometimes much much more) every year of their existence to date?  Good luck with that.

In general, I just fail to see how anyone can see having to pump 8+ mil a year into a local subsidy FOREVER is a better option than almost anything else.  Seriously, Glendale could spend 30 million to bulldoze the entire complex, eat the whole 150ish left on their bond principal and still only be 20ish mil worse off than they will be by the end of this deal.  And have a whole area ready to redevelop, you know, with a brain in their heads this time maybe.

That is how astoundingly awful this deal is for them.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 06/08/12 at 11:35 PM ET

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That is how astoundingly awful this deal is for them

I find it interesting how so many people trash phoenix for not supporting the coyotes, yet they go and build a beautiful arena, entertainment complex, condos and appartments,  hotels, restaurants and bars. They commit 25million a year for the past 2 years to keep the team, they develop a plan to support the franchise, westgate and everything else for 300 plus million and yet folks want to trash them for being stupid.  I give full credit to the people in Arizona, that are trying to make hockey work, while the haters and snobs look down their nose and sneer. To those of us who love the sport, who want to see it grow and expand today is a good day for hockey, good for Glendale and good for the Coyotes.

Posted by timbits on 06/09/12 at 12:52 AM ET

awould's avatar

Again, it’s a win for Glendale financially if they can GIVE THE THING AWAY

Do you think that if they give it away they magically don’t have to pay the mortgage? They’re paying that no matter what.

And your dismissal of the tenants who do occupy it shows just how ignorant you are. National chain stores are as good as it gets for a place like Westgate. And you keep talking about the high vacancy as though that matters in the long term. As most every critic of the Coyotes conveniently ignores, the economy totally sucks right now. If it didn’t, that center is probably 95% occupied like nearly every other mature power center in Phoenix. And when the economy returns, it will be. But not if the anchor tenant is gone.

Also, the rent/tenancy isn’t the issue. What Glendale loses when the center goes dark is a boatload of tax dollars from the business they do, which includes more than just the retail. Which is why the Pollack economist concluded that this deal is the best option. But I guess they didn’t talk to you, or else those PhD economists would’ve seen just how wrong they are.

Posted by awould on 06/09/12 at 01:59 AM ET

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