New mayors talk tough with Coyotes, Chargers

In addition to stadium referendums, Tuesday’s elections brought new mayors in cities facing sports facility battles. And two newly elected officials immediately made tough statements about their plans to deal with their local sports teams.

First, in Glendale, Arizona, home of the Phoenix Coyotes:

Glendale voters on Tuesday decisively selected Republican Jerry Weiers to succeed their outgoing mayor, Elaine Scruggs, and in doing so further complicated their relationship with the Coyotes. Weiers ran on a platform of reining in spending and was highly critical of the City Council’s pending financial deal with Jamison for managing Glendale’s city-owned Arena…

“Glendale is not your cash register,” Weiers said in his acceptance speech Tuesday evening, referring directly to the Coyotes and the spring training baseball teams that use the city’s ballpark. “We all love the Coyotes and Cactus League, but we cannot sacrifice our way of life so they can maintain theirs.”

That’s from SeattlePI, which is reporting on this, naturally, because it thinks that if the Coyotes’ stupefyingly generous lease deal falls apart, maybe the team will move to Seattle. Get in line, pal.

It’s also actually not clear whether Weiers can block the deal, since prospective owner Greg Jamison is reportedly angling for final approval of the lease by early December. Though given that this is the Coyotes, it’s always possible he meant some other December.

Meanwhile, over in San Diego, it’s a Democrat who’s talking tough toward the Chargers on their stadium demands:

The San Diego Chargers’ decade-long quest for a new stadium almost certainly won’t be submitted to voters until at least 2014.

But even that possibility appeared less likely this week with the election of new mayor Bob Filner, a Democrat who has vowed to be “the toughest negotiator the Chargers have ever faced.”…

Filner, a Congressman, states on his campaign website that “our city has been held ransom by our sports teams, a fact we cannot forget.” He states “the only deal” he would make “is one that will give something back to the city and its taxpayers.” He states that could include “partial ownership of the team” and “greater involvement and support of our public schools.”

Of course, nobody ever got elected by promising to be a weak negotiator, so the usual caveats apply. Chargers stadium czar Mark Fabiani (hi, Mark!) immediately issued a statement noting that Filner was elected with the support of labor unions, and a stadium would create jobs, and labor unions like jobs, and can’t we all just get along? Because a stadium plan without a site or funding or an amenable mayor really isn’t a stadium plan at all.

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11 comments on “New mayors talk tough with Coyotes, Chargers

  1. If there is one clear message coming out of the Elections is there is no love for corporations with the American People (The fact the Market had such a tumble is an indication of that). Is it right? Is it wrong? That can be debated, but it is what it is. As it relates to sports, the probability is that unless a project is under construction or at least agreed to, most sports related mega projects will be sleeping with the fish, for at least the next several years. Why? Because it will be more difficult to get them through: A more hostile electorate, tougher environmental regulations, probable tax increases (A given in California), and in general much more liberal politicians will be the reasons why. If you look at the Chargers for example: If I am ownership, because of the earlier agreement (As regards to LA), and the tough talk coming out of San Diego, I have to believe I have a better chance at Farmers Field of getting what I want then in San Diego. Not to mention the fact, I would be afraid of the Raiders getting there first, and being stuck at the present location for another decade. I see the most likely outcome being the Chargers and Rams in LA, and the Raiders remaining at the Coliseum site.

  2. Neil, I don’t think you’re taking the Seattle threat seriously enough. Ballmer, the Nordstrom family and Hansen seem determined to get teams into Sodo. Are there any sports team owners with more money than this group? And it will take more than money; I know that.

    Even the longshoremen suit won’t take long to clear out, though. They’ll be just fine with the new traffic, once they receive a settlement out of court. I’d bet the lawyers have been talking about this for weeks already.

    I’m glad these two new mayors are at least acting as though they have spines. Let’s see if they can keep this up.

  3. MikeM, I think you vastly overestimate Hansen and Nordstom family wealth. Ballmer is the money man we know of.

    “On the other hand, people who can afford to invest in teams didn’t get rich by being fools. “There is a difference between being civic-minded and philanthropy,” Nordstrom said.”

  4. No-one “needs” to watch professional sports, first of all. I happen to love sports (nearly all of them), but there is a limit to what I will pay – either at the stadium or on tv – to see them. IF the economic model of pro sports has so expanded that ordinary working fans cannot afford tickets, then it is the model and not the fan that needs to change. Using tax dollars to fill this apparent gap is utter madness.

    No-one is forcing the Chargers to leave San Diego. If they believe they can get a better deal from a more desperate community elsewhere (which is not LA. They’ve been doing just fine without NFL football for nearly 20 years, and NFL fans in LA are no longer blacked out when the home team is playing, as used to often be the case), they are free to move in a few short years (is it 2015? 2017? can’t recall off the top).

    If they choose to move and their destination is LA, we already know that the Anschutz stadium deal will be far less lucrative than many currently enjoyed by NFL clubs (Bengals, Steelers, Rams, Colts, etc). It may be that the cachet (and size) of “LA” will be enough to make up for that. Or it may not. Stadium subsidies were originally wished into existence on the belief that small market teams “needed” them to put them on a level playing field with the NY Yankees and their ilk. Of course, the Yankees have recently been the recipient of one of the largest stadium subsidies in history… so that logic seems to have been flawed, or a perhaps a complete lie from the beginning.

    Offering a team (whether they are named Chargers or not) a billion dollar stadium so they will “stay” for 35 years is not sound business, just as offering people $25k if they will purchase a $35k car is not sound business (or government policy).

    As for the “enjoy driving to LA to watch your team” suggestion, it’s farcical. Few if any Charger fans will make that drive. If the Chargers want to move and get NFL permission to do so, they will be playing to a new group of fans. They will not shed a tear at the loss of their San Diego fan base either. Fans need to get the idea out of their heads that their favourite team “cares” or “wants” to stay in any given location. What they want is money – as much as they can get from whomever will give it to them.

    If you agree to pay ransom to a blackmailer, history shows the outcome is generally negative. In other words, idiots tend to get what they deserve. Ask the taxpayers in Glendale or Cincinatti…

  5. Mike M:

    While I believe Seattle would be a decent market for the NHL, I don’t think it’s a slam dunk for any prospective ownership group.

    First of all, you have the arena issue… yes there’ll be a fantastic new building there in a few years. But the hockey owner won’t control it, Hansen will. It’s possible Hansen will offer a good lease to the NHL owner/tenant, but it’s not going to be anything like as good as the deal as will be available in Quebec, for example, where the team would be the prime sporting property and would control the building. Balanced against that, of course, is Seattle’s sheer size in comparison with QC, the language issue (for players) and weather.

    An NHL team in Seattle would be a more attractive proposition for the league than QC, but I’m not sure I’d want to own it if it’s 6th or 7th on the sports entertainment pecking order in the city. Maybe there is enough appetite to support it (the Sounders performance at the gate has been a shock to nearly everyone), but combining a stretched sports-ent dollar in the market and being a tenant in Hansen’s building makes this very much a question mark for me.

  6. MikeM: One big problem for Seattle getting an NHL team is they have to get an NBA team first, in order to build the arena. That alone puts them behind places like Quebec.

  7. “If the economic model of pro sports has so expanded that ordinary working fans cannot afford tickets, then it is the model and not the fan that needs to change. Using tax dollars to fill this apparent gap is utter madness.”

    And utterly unnecessary. Teams gotta have places to play, so stadiums and arenas will be built with or without subsidies.

  8. Thank god Filner won, DaMaio is Manchester’s (UT) and Spanos’ little bitch. He would have pushed through the downtown stadium fantasy that would’ve cost taxpayers at least $1 billion to $1.5 billion.

    I can’t wait until the Spanos family is run out of San Diego. Bulldozing the Q will create jobs and selling of the land will bring in more money than the $10+ million we lose every year operating that dump.

  9. Neil, Seattle’s closer to getting an NBA team than you think. That’s just a gut-feeling.

    Even if it is “only” Ballmer, which NBA team right now has more funding than him?

  10. Even if I credit your gut feeling, that’s still a hurdle that they need to clear that Quebec doesn’t.

    Add that Bettman apparently will only let the team leave Arizona over his dead body, and I don’t think any chickens should be counted anytime soon. Certainly not until the CBA shakes out, which at this rate will be well into Elizabeth Warren’s first term as president.

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