Monday, May 9, 2011

How much money is the city of Glendale, AZ willing to put up to keep the Phoenix Coyotes?

I cannot imagine the amount of money the citizens of Glendale, Arizona have been asked to pony up to keep the Phoenix Coyotes in town. First there was the 180 to 225 million dollars it cost to build the Coyotes home arena. Then the city coughed up 25 million dollars more to the NHL to cover operating losses for the 2010-11 season. Now the powers that be in Glendale, AZ are ready to pony up 25 million more to keep the team in town for one more year.

Doing a little simple math, they have spent some 230 million dollars with the promise to pay 25 million more. Since the NHL bought this team in 2009 for 140 million dollars the city has already forked over enough cash to nearly buy the team twice over. I really wonder if they should not just buy the franchise and then start upon the job of making it economically viable.

The city of Glendale has a lot on the line. If the Coyotes leave town, then arena is a big stadium without a major tenant. So I can understand their desire to do whatever is necessary to keep the Coyotes in town. However, at some point there reckless use of taxpayer funds to keep the team in town in the short term will catch up to them. For me it makes more sense for the city to simply buy the team. They already have so much invested in it; they might as well pony up the money to secure the team for their town long term.

I don't see how they can justify spending 50 million taxpayer dollars to keep the Coyotes in town for two years, if a new ownership group in not found. How bad would it be for the city if they ponied up 50 million dollars to keep the team in town for two years and it ends up leaving anyway?

One of the major problems in the sale of the Coyotes is the lease on arena. If the city were to simply purchase the team that problem effectively goes away and the city can move forward with their plans to make the area surrounding arena more economically viable. By appointing a board to govern the team they could also move forward with building the hockey club into something that makes money.

It is not unheard of for a city to buy a sports franchise. Green Bay owns the Packers; in Toledo, Ohio Lucas County owns and operates the Toledo Mud Hens as well as the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL. They have effectively used their ownership of sports teams to build new arenas and revitalize the downtown area of Toledo. For me that seems to be the best way Glendale, AZ could go if they are that serious about keeping the Coyotes in their city.

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