Glendale legislator: Wait, why exactly should we pay for another city to steal the Coyotes?

Hey, here’s a question you don’t see asked nearly often enough: Why the heck should a state government pay to help a pro sports team leave one part of the state for another? The state is Arizona, where even after Coyotes owner Anthony LeBlanc’s Tempe arena plans crashed and burned last week, state senator Bob Worsley (who represents Mesa, in the East Valley) is still pushing for $200 million in state sales tax kickbacks that LeBlanc could use for a new arena elsewhere in the state. State representative Anthony Kern (who represents Glendale, in the West Valley), meanwhile, is having none of that:

“This legislation comes down to a simple public-policy question: Should taxpayers be asked to pay for a new arena that will directly compete with already existing facilities that taxpayers are still paying off?” Kern said…

“We want the Coyotes to be successful on and off the ice and to do so in the publicly-funded Gila River Arena that the public built — Glendale taxpayers built — for them to play in.”

While I’m not sure “taxpayers are still paying off” is the most sensible argument — would it be okay for the state to subsidize one Arizona city stealing a team from another if Glendale’s arena were already paid for? — Kern has a point with the rest of it. The only thing stopping the Coyotes from playing in Glendale, after all, is that LeBlanc is refusing to do so unless he gets to manage the arena and get paid by the city for it, which isn’t exactly the kind of crisis that the state needs to run in and solve. Unless you think that he’s going to move the team out of state if his demands aren’t met, which he hasn’t threatened to do yet—

According to officials in Seattle and Portland, members of the Arizona Coyotes have toured arenas in both locations in the past three months. The destinations appear to have been the KeyArena in Seattle and the Moda Center in Portland, Ore...

Arizona Coyotes Executive Vice President of Communications Rich Nairn denied the rumors, when asked about the reports of members touring the two arenas.

“That is false,” Nairn said via email.

So, either this is a rumor that Seattle and Portland are spreading for unknown reasons, or it’s a non-threat threat by LeBlanc. Either way, a whole lot of sabers are being rattled, which is to be expected, but that’s no reason to panic just yet and start throwing sales tax money around.


8 comments on “Glendale legislator: Wait, why exactly should we pay for another city to steal the Coyotes?

  1. It just get better, and better as more detailed information is revealed from different sources.

    Lawmakers split on proposal for new Coyotes arena

    “The new sales taxes generated from any new arena are estimated at $20 million annually, with half kept by an arena developer to help finance the new facility, Worsely said.”

    http://www.dcourier.com/news/2017/feb/06/lawmakers-split-proposal-new-coyotes-arena/

    • That would be somewhat less than $200m worth, then — $10m a year would pay off roughly $150m in up-front costs.

      But what would happen to the other half? Would the state get to keep all of it? (Also, what qualifies as “new” sales taxes…?)

    • That’s an article from Monday and sounds like it just might be outlining a region of the city to scoop tax collections out of and say they’re arena-generated.

      “Sen. Bob Worsley’s legislation would allow the creation of a new “community engagement district” that would keep half its sales tax revenue to fund arena construction. Worsley said Monday he’s trying to keep the Coyotes in Arizona.”

  2. Forgive my ignorance but as an economically conservative Canadian why is this ‘red state’ not letting this franchise sink or swim based on its own economic merits? They are so concerned about ‘fiscal prudence’ around government spending in other areas why is hockey exempt? I love hockey but it shouldn’t be ‘supported’ like this. Very disturbing.

    • Stadium subsidies are not red state/blue state issues. Both sides of the aisle have plenty of reasons to hate stadium subsidies but they do it anyway due bogus economic studies, a desire to make their cities “big time”, and/or to curry favor with donors (IMHO).

  3. And now you have LeBlanc discussing how he remains committed to Arizona by emphasizing how his building will be the most tax-friendly in the state, declaring the building would pay for itself. Well Tony if that is the case, then pay for it yourself.

  4. Coyotes still ‘pretty confident’ of finding an arena solution

    http://nhl.nbcsports.com/2017/02/09/coyotes-still-pretty-confident-of-finding-an-arena-solution/

    Yeah, not so much.

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