Joyce Clark, a member of the Glendale City Council, discusses the City’s arena agreement with a potential buyer of the Phoenix Coyotes.
Ted Simons: Earlier this month the city of Glendale, the city council that S. approved a $325 million arena lease agreement with the prospective buyer of the Phoenix coyotes. Here to talk about the city's efforts to keep the coyotes in Glendale and to fend off legal challenges by the Goldwater Institute is Joyce Clark, a member of the Glendale city council. It's good to have you here. Thanks for joining us. What is the status of the coyotes and Glendale?
Joyce Clark: Well, I am pleased to announce that there has been another month extension granted by the NHL. The NHL will continue to absorb the costs of running the arena while we continue to work out the issues that remain with regard to signing a lease.
Ted Simons: Why is this lease agreement a god thing for Glendale? 20-some odd years, that's a lot of money, a lot of time.
Joyce Clark: Yeah, but you have to keep in mind that back in 2002, we developed a vision for West Glendale, the Westgate area. And that was to become the second major economic engine in Glendale. So having the coyotes there maintains that synergy of the Westgate area and keeps it economically viable. Which is very, very important.
Ted Simons: And yet the question has to be asked, can the city afford to keep the team in Glendale? All things considered?
Joyce Clark: The city cannot afford to lose the team. The Elliot poll OK study, for example, says that Glendale are Sr. better off keeping the team over the 20 years than losing the team.
Ted Simons: Even if it means secondary property tax increase, even if it means a sales tax increase modified I guess last night to a certain degree, but a sales tax increase nonetheless, even if it means a possible initiative out there that could rescind the sales tax increase? That's a lot of financial juggling going on. Is it worth it?
Joyce Clark: Yes, because your premise is wrong. The property tax has nothing to do with the coyotes. The property tax is a result of everyone's property being devalued. We use those funds to pay our capital improvement programs, which are all the amenities that the citizens of Glendale enjoy. The sales tax -- if you took the coyotes out of the equation, Glendale is still $23 million in deficit. Now, that's a combination of a lot of factors that have nothing to do with the coyotes. So, yes, the coyotes being there becomes a very viable option for Glendale.
Ted Simons: As far as the options for the arena, if this deal does fall through, in some way, shape, or form, are there other options? The Goldwater Institute says there are other ways to make money off of that arena, other than giving a team $320 million. Valid?
Joyce Clark: No. And I don't know when they developed expertise in arena management. We have gone through a series of bidders. All of them bid basically on the arena, and they did not meet council's bid specifications. The Jamison group has met those specifications. The only deal we have heard about wants to take money from the Jamison deal, $7.5 million of the Jamison deal money, to host 25 events. Which are not guaranteed.
Ted Simons: So basically when the Goldwater Institute says this wasn't even open for competitive bidding, you say --
Joyce Clark: I say it most definitely was, and has been for three years.
Ted Simons: Goldwater Institute also says they're having a devil after time getting important documents from the city of Glendale. They've gone to court, they even had a judge who said the city needs to step up as far as getting these papers over there. What's going on with transparency, why is it so difficult to get those records public?
Joyce Clark: I don't think it is that difficult. I think that Glendale has bent over backyards and has given Goldwater at this point tens of thousands of documents at this point. And the three documents that were referred to by Goldwater cannot be created until we sign the final papers with the Jamison group. How can you create an arena management budget, which is one of the papers that is claimed they don't have, when we don't have a deal that is signed yet?
Ted Simons: I think they would argue that how would you go ahead and approve this lease agreement without that kind of information?
Joyce Clark: Because the cap that is going to Jamison is $17 million. Period. He's not getting any more. How he spends that money wisely or unwisely will either generate him some profit, or he's going to have to dig into his pockets to make up the difference. The basic deal is sound, and it's at 17 million.
Ted Simons: Back to the taxpayers and concerns regarding the taxpayers sales tax property tax, you're basically saying there are different avenues for each pot of money, and the pot of money for the coyotes has absolutely nothing to do with the sales tax, absolutely nothing to do with the secondary property tax.
Joyce Clark: Absolutely nothing to do with the secondary property tax. It does play a small role in the sales tax, but it is not the major factor why the city is in deficit. The city is in deficit because it lost 31% of state shared revenue, 14% of its sales tax over this recessional period.
Ted Simons: With that in mind, Goldwater Institute and perhaps others in Glendale would say, is this the time to be investing in something like this lease agreement deal?
Joyce Clark: I think we absolutely have to stick to the vision. We have to keep Westgate viable. Look at what Westgate has -- what the arena has brought to Westgate. It brought the University of Phoenix stadium. It brought Cabela's, it's bringing Tangor outlet mall, which will open on black Friday, and it is bringing dignity health hospital to this area. It is an economic engine. Keep in mind that there are thousands of acres surrounding Westgate that are already entitled for development.
Ted Simons: Last question, the Goldwater Institute says, again, their biggest concern with this is transparency, not getting information to the taxpayers, and a possible gift clause violation. With that in mind, they say the city brought all of this attention from them on itself. Could have been more cooperative, could have been more transparent. What say you?
Joyce Clark: I say maybe they need to look at what happened in Mesa with Mesa's cubs facility. Maybe they need to, or should have been looking at a long time ago, the Diamondbacks situation in Phoenix. And it's my understanding that one of the board members actually has a connection to the Diamondbacks. The board gives direction to the staff on Goldwater. I wonder if there's any conflict of interest?
Ted Simons: All right. We will leave it at that. We heard from the Goldwater Institute earlier, wanted to hear from the city of Glendale. It's good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.
Joyce Clark: I want to say one last thing.
Ted Simons: All right, make it fast.
Joyce Clark: If you want further information, go to these websites, Glendalearizona.com, coyotespac.com, or informglendale.com. They all have factual information.
Joyce Clark:Glendale City Council;