We’ve gotten a hint of how the Arizona Coyotes owners want to finance a new arena, wherever it ends up, and surprise, surprise, it’s not “with that U.S. savings bond we’ve been holding onto for the right moment,” but rather a whole buncha tax subsidies:
There could be a measure introduced at the Arizona Legislature in the coming weeks to create a special taxing district possibly to capture sales tax to finance development of a new arena…
“We have had exploratory conversations with a number of different governmental entities. However, we have not reached any agreements, even in principle, with anyone,” [Coyotes CEO Anthony] LeBlanc said in a statement. “We are also exploring some legislative options. However, nothing has yet been introduced. If anything is introduced, it will be location agnostic, and therefore not focused on any one location or jurisdiction.”
Let’s step back for a moment here to consider how incredibly insane it would be for the state of Arizona to siphon off sales tax money around a new arena and hand it over to the team: Sure, sales tax receipts would go up around an arena, especially if you built the arena in what would otherwise be the middle of the desert. And overall sales tax receipts might even go up in whatever city you built it in, since people would be spending their money there instead of in Glendale now. But state sales tax revenue wouldn’t change one bit, unless the lure of a new hockey arena suddenly got additional people pouring across the New Mexico border to watch Coyotes games, which I don’t think even LeBlanc could pretend with a straight face. And even if the district were to just siphon off local sales taxes (which aren’t that much: 2% in Phoenix, 1.75% in Mesa), the state should have no interest in encouraging cities to steal sales tax revenue from each other and then hand it over to a private sports team.
There’s absolutely no way of knowing how much money is at stake here, since any sales-tax kickback district could be drawn as small or as large as you like, and so encompass any amount of sales tax receipts. But however it works out, the Coyotes are clearly looking for someone else to bail them out of their horrible deal with Glendale where LeBlanc only got a free arena and now wouldn’t get paid to run it as well because he refused to enter into a bidding process to see how much he’d get paid. This can only end stupid.