Glendale council calls meeting to discuss canceling Coyotes’ sweetheart lease, team owner flips out

All that bickering about just how raw a deal Glendale is getting from its lease with the Arizona Coyotes turns out to be about more than just PR. The Glendale city council has scheduled a special meeting today to vote on whether to cancel the city’s lease agreement with the Coyotes, under which Glendale pays the team’s owners $15 million a year, and gets back about $6.6 million a year in revenue, so long as you count things like sales taxes on arena spending as “getting back.”

The out clause that the council plans on using, according to the meeting agenda, is a state statute that allows cities to cancel contracts if one of the city’s negotiators jumps to working for the other side in the deal. Which is exactly what happened in Glendale, where city attorney Craig Tindall, after being fired by the city in early 2013, immediately took a similar position with the Coyotes.

The city council’s obvious goal here is to get the Coyotes owners to renegotiate the arena lease — you can tell by the way they asked them if they’d renegotiate the arena lease. “That’s not going to happen,” Coyotes CEO Anthony LeBlanc replied, while issuing a press release calling the city’s actions “completely ludicrous” and threatening legal action if the city tries to nullify the lease. (UPDATE: The Coyotes Twitter account also changed its location in the last day or so to read “Still in Glendale, Arizona.” Everybody’s a comedian.)

It’s certainly a bit of a weird gambit — it sounds like the council pretty much blindsided LeBlanc on this one — but not an entirely unreasonable way to play hardball with the team over a lease that’s widely considered to be one of the worst in sports. After all, the Coyotes owners — all 206 of them over the past few years — haven’t been shy about using their ability to threaten to break things off with Glendale as leverage to extract more favorable terms in their arena deal. Exploring whether the city can call the whole thing off on it own would be a logical step on the council’s part; next up would be a study to evaluate whether the city would be better off getting someone else to run the arena, even if it meant the Coyotes leaving town. It would have been nice to have some of this due diligence before everyone sat down and signed the deal, but better late than never, right?

17 comments on “Glendale council calls meeting to discuss canceling Coyotes’ sweetheart lease, team owner flips out

  1. The Coyotes twitter account has “Still in Glendale, Arizona” as its location. Sassy and amusing, but very telling nonetheless.

  2. I’m not sure if they changed it right after the press release, but it’s def still there.

  3. Yeah, I just looked and saw it, along with much Twitterverse hilarity about it. More wondering when they first put it up. On May 16 it still just said “Arizona”:

  4. Are there coyotes in the Toronto area? Like it matters. Salt Lake City ain’t exactly the birthplace of jazz (or any place jazz might have considered settling in).

  5. Normally I can’t stand infographics, but the one published on AZCentral sure tells the story. It looks like Glendale has gotten the idea that being a concert/special event venue without an anchor tenant (like The Forum in the LA area) is viable. Makes me wonder if Milwaukee shouldn’t take a harder line with the Bucks.

  6. SEATTLE is shovel ready with a new arena……..Come on up to the Northwest, Coyotes!

  7. @Shawn
    No they’re not. It’s only shovel ready for an NBA team not the NHL.

    Vegas and Quebec are in the process of finishing up their arenas so if the Coyotes end up moving, it will be to one of those places.

  8. Las Vegas new arena (60% done)

    Quebec City new arena (90% done)

  9. Beautiful. A city council using a contract and/or legal loophole to frighten a professional sports ownership group. We’ve got a group of council people who as of late have done the same thing in St. Petersburg, Florida. I hope these same politicians stick to their guns and eventually force these rich owners to pay their fair share. Hopefully.

  10. Very sly Neil, working in the area code for Seattle (206) into a Coyotes piece.

  11. The council wouldn’t schedule a vote to cancel the lease if they didn’t have the votes.

    I bet the city wishes the team had been sold to Jim Balsillie years ago…

  12. Man, I hope they have the fortitude to go through with this. It’d be so great to see a local government cancel a relationship like this with a sports team when they’re getting a raw deal and they’re legally entitled to this remedy.

    Go Glendale. We’re on your side.

  13. It would just be tremendous if some host city forcibly evicted it’s parasitic sports owner/franchise.

    As Neil Young once said, ‘it doesn’t mean that much to me to mean that much to you”.

  14. “SEATTLE is shovel ready with a new arena……..Come on up to the Northwest, Coyotes!”
    Pretty sure that’s not true at all. On the off chance it happens, Quebec City has better odds.
    I wonder how many of these Seattle posts are made by Milwaukee or Phoenix politicians.