Coyotes arena plan continues to look less like a plan than like a way to get media attention

Recent developments in the Arizona Coyotes‘ Tempe arena plan kerfuffle, as I was making my way back yesterday from talking to folks at UConn about stadiums and development and journalism and other matters:

  • The Coyotes, as noted previously, would build the Tempe arena on property controlled by Arizona State University, which would get to use the pro team’s attached 4,000-seat practice facility for its own hockey games. (Don’t click on the link unless you really have to, it launches an awful autoplay ad with audio.) But hockey games only — ASU would still be renovating its own 12,000-seat arena for other sports, leaving the Phoenix area with these two arenas, plus the Suns‘ existing Phoenix arena and maybe the new one that they want to build, plus the Coyotes’ old arena in Glendale, and … you know, one of the things I did in Connecticut was a attend a class that was talking about reducing the environmental impact of new sports venues — you think maybe not building a different one for each and every sports team in a metro area would be a start?
  • Speaking of Glendale, that city just settled a longstanding lawsuit by the Cardinals over the city’s previous promise to build more parking spaces by agreeing to pay $17 million, instead of the $36 million the team was demanding. So that’s either a $19 million savings, or another $17 million down the drain of the old Glendale administration’s money-losing sports spending spree, depending how you want to count.
  • Laurie Roberts of the Arizona Republic wrote a good column (no autoplay ads on this one, yay!) laying out how stupid and awful this whole mess is. Sample: “For a brief shining moment on Monday, I actually thought that the Coyotes honchos had figured out there was a reason why their proposal to high-jack tax revenues to build yet another hockey arena was DOA at the Legislature last spring. Boy, was I ever wrong.”

Roberts also noted that no actual city or state elected officials or ASU administrators were on hand for Monday’s press conference, which is looking more and more like an attempt at jump-starting momentum for this arena project than an actual announcement of anything. And I’ve now written about it four times this week already, so apparently it’s working!

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15 comments on “Coyotes arena plan continues to look less like a plan than like a way to get media attention

  1. Any plan that also involves renovating Wells Fargo is insane. It can stay for smaller profile sports but doesn’t need to be upgraded too.

  2. You may be reading this one incorrectly, Neil. I never got that tax kickbacks are DOA, just that the Coyotes had to come back in 2017. And, yes, Tempe & state officials were absent, but none of them have given negative indications since.

    Here’s a reality that may be getting overlooked: in 2010 ASU got their facilities district approved by the state. The district is supposed to be a way to get property taxes from development (technically PILOTs, but essentially the same thing) on the old ASU golf course to cover the cost of upgrading the football stadium & other athletic facilities. In six years, no developer has shown serious interest. So, if Tempe & the state as chilly on this as you imagine (and I don’t see any reason why Tempe would be; it’s just the state that would be losing sales tax revenue), then they’re really screwing over ASU.

  3. I didn’t say that tax kickbacks are DOA. Just that the Coyotes’ financing plan before this was “we’re going to pick a site and then try to get somebody else to pay for it,” and now it’s “we’ve picked a site (but haven’t gotten anyone to offer it to us) and now we’re going to try to get somebody else to pay for it.”

    I guess both of those are “plans,” technically, but changing from one to the other is still a PR stunt more than a business negotiation.

    And if the state wants to help ASU to expand its athletic facilities, it can just cut a check. Giving the Coyotes $200m in tax rebates so that they’ll pay a few million in property taxes is about the most inefficient use of money imaginable.

    1. If the Coyotes are getting $200 million in sales tax rebates, then that means that sales taxes have increased a significant amount more than $200 million. Currently sales taxes on the ASU golf course are approximately $0. (And here’s the part where the ‘substitution theory’ gets brought up and I just roll my eyes.)

      1. Substitution isn’t a theory, Ben, it’s a proven phenomenon. We can argue about the exact size of the effect, but there’s never been a development project in history that saw $X in sales taxes and then an $X bump in sales-tax receipts was seen for the entire city or metro area, let alone a state.

        Don’t make me haul Geoffrey Propheter in here, Marshall McLuhan-style, to lay out what the numbers say.

      2. Sales taxes will increase without a hockey arena – probably more than with a hockey arena. This is very valuable land, which is going to be developed regardless whether a sports arena takes up a big hunk of it. We already have the money-losing portion of the plan; there is no reason to move it from Glendale to Tempe.

      3. A regional tax policy focused on one piece of land makes perfect sense if that’s the only taxable land in the whole state. Of course it is not.

        Every one of these stadiums (DC United, Minnesota, etc.) tries to argue that the land isn’t productive and that to make it productive you should spend more money than you make. If this were farming we’d all be starving.

  4. The Wells Fargo and new hockey arena get me as well. Why doesn’t ASU basketball just share with the Coyotes? That would be an obvious way to save money.

    The Suns aren’t off the hook either. They could’ve shared an arena with the Coyotes downtown but were unwilling to be equal partners in the project. You would think that with all the money that the NBA gets, they wouldn’t be so hell bent on hogging up arena revenues as well. Robert Sarver is not a good owner.

      1. Right. What I’m saying is that the Coyotes can build the new arena but have the Sun Devils share it then you wouldn’t have to waste money on Wells Fargo renovations.

  5. Would love for you to join and comment on the Business of Hockey forum.

  6. Adblock + Flashblock = No autoplay, ever.
    P.S.: It is interesting that the big, “respectable”, newspapers and media outlets are the worst offenders.

  7. The Arizona House Majority leader said he didn’t even know the Coyotes were still there and they aren’t a high priority:

  8. Considering the Phoenix Suns are lobbying for a new arena and the Arizona Diamondbacks are demanding millions of dollars in renovations, the Coyotes are looking like the red headed stepchild in the pecking order. The downtown (Suns arena) is a Live Nation venue and since they bring in the vast majority of entertainment acts into Arizona, I am sure they, along with the Phoenix Suns will fight hard and heavy against any tax dollars going towards an additional stadium in a metropolitan area. The notion that a new arena built in a more central location is not necessarily going to bring more fans. Phoenix is very much a winner take all type of band wagon town and the Coyotes have a high hill to climb. The fact they have one of the lowest ticket prices in the NHL does not bode well for them to buy the much needed talent that it takes to put winner on the ice. The ownership does not have the deep pockets to buy such talent and would only gain that extra revenue by drastically raising ticket prices which would not go over well in this market.

  9. Looks like more bad news from the AZ State Legislature on the Coyotes Arena ‘Financing’ plan.

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