New Coyotes lease approved; is the circus finally over?

Or is it just ramping up again? Friday the Glendale City Council, by a vote of 4-2, approved a new lease agreement for potential Coyote owner Greg Jamison despite a court challenge by the Goldwater Institute who sought a restraining order to delay the vote. Full post and poll after the jump...

While this looks like great news for long suffering Coyote fans on the surface I would hold off on any celebrating just yet. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper denied the restraining order sought by the Goldwater Institute, saying the court lacked the jurisdiction to do so, but added that there were violations of a 2009 court order requiring Glendale to provide all documents in negotiations between the Coyotes and a prospective buyer be provided to Goldwater in a timely manner. "She issued a strong warning to the City of Glendale about the implications of moving forward today, affirming the Goldwater Institute's contention that the city has committed `clear violations' both of court orders and open meeting laws," Goldwater Institute President Darcy Olsen said in a statement.

The main issue in all of this is The City of Glendale will be paying $203 million to Jamison over twenty years to manage and operate arena while taking back only $45 million in revenue. While Jamison should be paid something for operating the arena the figure seems to be considerably higher than that of other teams in the NHL or any other league for that matter, and looks a lot like an outright subsidy which would be a violation of Arizona state law. This is the reason Matthew Hulsizer's bid for the team went up in smoke last year, probably a good thing considering he looked like yet another one of these shallow-pocketed clown owners the NHL is so fond of bringing in. So the Goldwater Institute will be back and this has the potential to get real messy. Despite this threat the NHL will move forward with getting Jamison approved as an owner over the next couple of weeks.

As a fan writing from a different market I have mixed feelings about all of this. While I'd like to see the team stay in Glendale with Jamison at the helm (as he is the best ownership candidate to step forward thus far) this deal does not look like a good one for the taxpayers of Glendale, a city laying off employees, cutting services and raising taxes to cover budget shortfalls. Based on the figures I am seeing, if this deal goes through it will cost Glendale $158 million to keep the Coyotes over the next twenty years, this after already paying $50 million to the NHL to keep the team from packing up. The city council says it would cost $177 million over that twenty time span to manage the arena themselves without an anchor tenant so their rationale is that it would be cheaper to do this costly deal and keep the Coyotes than to let them go.

Now I have a couple issues with this rationale: 1) If it would cost the COG $177 million to manage and operate the arena themselves without an anchor tenant doesn't that mean the actual cost of operating the arena is really $132 million ($177 million minus the $45 million in missed Coyote rent payments over 20 years)? So why is Jamison getting $203 million from Glendale instead of $132 million or even the quoted $177 million if that is the actual cost of operating the arena? That screams subsidy and will be a huge point of contention for the Goldwater Institute. 2) The COG keeps saying losing the 41+ Coyote home dates will hurt businesses and cost jobs especially in Westgate. I agree with that statement but how does the potential negative economic impact stack up to the $8 million per year it is going to cost to prop the team up? Isn't Westgate already having troubles even with the Coyotes dates? Also, why do the Coyotes have to be the anchor tenant come hell or high water? Hasn't anybody in Glendale over the last three years thought about bringing in an AHL team for example to be the primary tenant to fill up those dates? Couldn't you also book more concerts, truck pulls or other events? Wouldn't finding a cheaper management alternative and letting them do what I just mentioned above be a much less burdensome financial scenario for the taxpayers?

Now I know I probably sound like I think the Coyotes should be moved but I don't have a problem with Jamison owning the team and keeping it in Glendale as long as it's a deal that isn't completely unfair for the taxpayers who unfortunately don't get to vote on the matter. I have seen other NHL cities come back from the brink under the right ownership. Maybe this will be another example of that but my head says the Coyotes, despite their recent on-ice success have scorched too much earth in Glendale over the years and there is more scorching yet to come until this is resolved one way or the other. It's going to be interesting to see how this plays out if the Goldwater Institute takes this battle to court and how willing the NHL and Jamison are to carry on the fight.

Ed. Note: follow all the Coyotes news throughout the summer via our SB Nation cousins at Five For Howling.

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