Glendale’s plan to facilitate the sale of the Phoenix Coyotes to Matthew Hulsizer and keep the team in the city was expected to come under fire at Tuesday night’s community conversation, hosted by Mayor Elaine Scruggs.
That didn’t happen.
With unusually high interest from community members in the wake of the Goldwater Institute’s criticism of the plan, the mayor’s staff doubled the attendance cap for the meeting. While more than 70 people attended the sesssion at the First United Methodist Church in downtown Glendale, there was no outrage. In fact, nearly every resident spoke in favor of the deal.
“We trust the mayor, the council and city staff in every other aspect of the operation of Glendale, and we should trust them here,” said Gail Meyers. “It would be a giant step backward for Glendale if this deal doesn’t go through.”
Another resident, Nelson Fink, said he did not think much of the Goldwater Institute’s stance on the issue.
“How many attorneys have looked at this deal and given it the OK? And how many attorneys from the Goldwater Institute think they know better?”
The Goldwater Institute is a Phoenix watchdog group that claims the city’s hockey deal would put taxpayers at risk and illegally subsidize a private business. It is threatening to sue if Glendale enters into a deal.
Scruggs said the city is not fazed by the Goldwater Institute’s criticisms.
“The market valuation is done, and the bonds are out on the market,” she said. “You all know the ups and downs, turns and twists we’ve been through, and the council feels we have a good agreement.”
If the bonds do not sell, she said, the team is gone.
“The team will leave for Canada,” she said. “We can argue forever, but it is what it is. This is how things are done in the bond market.”
If the team does leave, Scruggs said the city will have to come up with a way to compensate for lost revenue, whether from cutting other costs or raising taxes. Scruggs even mentioned the possibility of pursuing a minor league hockey team as a replacement anchor tenant.
“We need guidance on this because we could be dealing with this in just a couple of weeks,” she said. “I cannot be more serious. We’d need to find a way to cut expenses or raise revenue.”
Jeff Dempsey may be reached at 623-876-2531 or firstname.lastname@example.org.