Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers will discuss the future of the Phoenix Coyotes staying in Glendale, now that a deal to keep the team there has fallen through.
Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. A deal to buy the Phoenix coyotes fell through but hockey officials and the city of Glendale are looking for ways to keep the team in town. Joining us now is the Mayor of Glendale. Jerry Weiers, good to have here.
Jerry Weiers: Thanks for having me here.
Ted Simons: Were you surprised the Jameson group missed the deadline?
Jerry Weiers: I was not surprised. You know, I've been in sales a good portion of my life. I have owned several businesses, and you get to where you read body language, and a, and a lot of hearsay from outsiders that, that tell you thing they believe. I was not surprised, I sort of expected it, but at the same time, we had given our word, the city of Glendale, the previous council, made a deal, and we kept our word, he did not make it happen, or fortunately, however things play out, but, right now, I see some great opportunities for us and hopefully we can take advantage of that.
Ted Simons: I want to talk about that in a second but what do you know and what can you say about why the group failed? This has been a year in the making, and it was stretched to the last second, and nothing.
Jerry Weiers: I don't know his contacts. He never did divulge that. I think it comes down to a lot of different factors. One, is the team hasn't had the greatest record. Last year was a great, a great season for them, and hopefully they can continue that. But, they go on to a strike. But, it seems like it's been one problem after another, in lots of areas. The recession hasn't helped any of us out, and to find a buyer and the people that will come to the game consistently, and businesses that want to sponsor advertising and things like that, it's just been a really tough fight for everybody. Obviously, we gain, if we can come up and figure out a way to keep the team in Glendale, but it has to be something that makes sense. It cannot be at all costs. It has to make sense for the city, and our citizens.
Ted Simons: The coyotes will stay in Glendale for the rest of the season?
Jerry Weiers: That's correct.
Ted Simons: And once the season is over?
Jerry Weiers: We're trying hard to keep them.
Ted Simons: The city released a statement after this was announced that, that, "seeking direction from city council on how to move forward." What does that mean?
Jerry Weiers: Well, we have four new members, obviously, today makes day 21, not that I'm counting. Day 21 for me, as the Mayor of Glendale. I have to try to represent the entire city. The three new council members, along with myself, had a different version on what the previous council had taken. And that's not to say that the previous council was wrong or that we're right. Obviously, you know, we have to take the advantages that we have, knowing the information that we have, and the people interested in acquiring the team, and how do we do that, makes sense for everybody.
Ted Simons: What options, it seems as though you look at this deal, and reasons that I think that you and other members of the council weren't too happy about it, it's a sweetheart deal for the new group. If you cannot get an ownership group assembled with that kind of deal, where do you go from here?
Jerry Weiers: Well, and I have started going from there. I talked with, with the NHL commissioner yesterday, and even though it was Sunday, apologized to them for me calling him on Sunday, and he informed me that his job is a 365-day a year job, I guess, as mine is but, you know, the problems don't go away, they don't change, and so it's up to me to do everything in my power to make things work, and I offered to him myself, as far as doing whatever we can to negotiate something that will allow him to find more buyers, we have already got two folks, that, that, a portion right now I cannot divulge who they are that expressed some major interests, and one of those, I'm very confident has the ability, but, again, in business, they are only going to do what makes sense for them, so it's finding that balance for the business and the city.
Ted Simons: I think some fans would say, we have a couple folks waiting to get in and we have a group wait to get find friends, why couldn't the two meet?
Jerry Weiers: Well, again, you know, businesses that, not necessarily all businesses are going to want to partner. And I think that one of the, one of the issues previously, is I think that, that as, as Mr. Jameson kept going to different lenders, and by the time you split that pie in so many pieces, no one is getting a whole lot, but everybody is, is susceptible to a lot of downsized, so, if you cannot reap the most rewards and you stand to lose, sometimes, it's not very appealing.
Ted Simons: Too much risk.
Jerry Weiers: Potential, yes.
Ted Simons: What would you like to see the city do?
Jerry Weiers: We're already doing that, obviously, I have talked with Mr. Jameson. I have talked with a couple folks that have expressed interested, and Mr. Jameson, the NHL commissioner, yesterday and, and in the conversation that we had, he was extremely excited on, on something that, that I had suggested, and he said that, that, that previously, they did not have those options that, that I'm suggesting that we at least talk about today.
Ted Simons: what would they be?
Jerry Weiers: I wished that I could tell you. And right now, I have to protect the potential investors and, and we need negotiations, we need to open it up to as many people as possible, not just limit ourselves to one buyer. The whole open process as far as getting as many involved as possible to get the best deal for the city. Once we come up with something, we can presented it. And then, of course, the public will know about it, but, it has to work. Just has to work for the city.
Ted Simons: And you did not think the last deal necessarily would work the best for the city. Why is that? And again, can you reshape, restructure something that would be attractive to investors, especially when investors were not all that attracted to what was offered before?
Jerry Weiers: I do think so, and again, our conversation yesterday, what I suggested to him he was excited about, and that is changing the contract, some details about it, that, that, actually, wouldn't cost the city as much money but potentially, the new owners have more opportunities. And that's huge. You know. Business is all about opportunities. The least amount of gamble for the most amount of profit made is what businesses are always looking for.
Ted Simons: So, you disagree with the last deal, what was it in general? Or in particular that you did not like about that last one?
Jerry Weiers: There were several things. Obviously, what I had talked about in my campaign is if you are a citizen and your house catches on fire, you know, if you have someone breaking into your house and you need to call the public safety, the deal that we had with, with the hawk is, that we're going to go ahead and fund hawk at all costs. And that's not necessarily true, but that was perception, and at the same time, we're coming back and we're cutting public safety. So, one of the things that I mentioned in, several times in my campaign, is if you need a fireman or policement quickly, you don't want someone showing up in a Zamboni. You want someone showing up to do that job.
Ted Simons: Were there not separate silos, one for coyotes, one for city services? Could they have not existed side-by-side?
Jerry Weiers: It comes down to perception. As you are giving money away to a national hockey league, at the same time, at the very, very same time, you are cutting your public safety. Citizens don't care. They don't care, the perception is, you are going to fund this and cut this.
Ted Simons: Can the city afford to have the coyotes leave? Can you afford to have that arena without a tenant? A hockey tenant?
Jerry Weiers: I think that if we cannot get a deal that makes sense, we may not have any options, although, we're trying desperately right now to come up with a balance can that can make more than it spends and giving the team an opportunity to, to build, become successful, and drum up more attendance and hopefully, in years to come, be able to fill that arena.
Ted Simons: Do you think that the arena so far and, and the hockey team, so far, in that arena, have they both been a catalyst for growth out there?
Jerry Weiers: I think early on before the recession hit, I think it was huge. When you go out to that area now, you see a lot of closed businesses, and the real question is, are the hockey games being played, are they drawing in enough to keep the businesses open? I went out before the election and talked with several merchants, and several said, our doors are not open because of the hockey, it certainly doesn't hurt. But, if we depended only on hockey, we could not make it, so, when tanger outlets opened up, which is a huge, huge boom to the city, and those type of things is what's going to grow. We have a new hospital that, that we just, had a ceremony two days ago, and St. Joseph west gate, which I coin the name Joe west, you know. We got some, some huge growth coming into our city. Along that corridor 101 Glendale Avenue. Our city is a place where in the future is where things will be happening and the money will be coming, and I think that, that we can salvage all of this.
Ted Simons: Do you have a plan b, c, or d in place if the team does leave.
Jerry Weiers: Right now we are in discussions with potential owners, this is so fresh, that, that the council hasn't had a chance to sit down, I'm one vote of seven, and I have to get here members, figure out what they want to do and how they want to accomplish that, and hopefully we can get on the same page, and address the city's needs. That's the bottom line, that's what we have to do.
Ted Simons: Last question, big picture here, do you think that the city should have gotten involved in sports to the extent that it has between the Cardinals' stadium, University of Phoenix stadium, jobing.com arena, camelback ranch there is a lot of sports activity out there, and you hear criticism all the time, no one wants to go out to Glendale and no one wants to do that, it's too far away. has it been worth it?
Jerry Weiers: Loaded question. When things are cooking, when things are working right, and when the economy is good, I think that it's, I think it's great for the city. The real question, with our, our economy today, I don't think that they have anything to do with it, I think that people do what they want to do when they want to do it. You look at the renaissance festival on the far east side, superstition mountain area, and I know a lot of people in the west valley that drive that. They do that because they want to. So, the drives don't make it much different. It's when you have somebody that has seasoned tickets to something that's being played two or three times a week. And that's where it becomes difficult, especially on school nights if they have kids. Yeah. So, you know, it might be hard for people in Scottsdale, but, the people in the west valley, Avondale, surprise, el mirage, Buckeye, good itself year, Litchfield park, all those folks? I don't think that they mind the drive at all. I think they like it.
Ted Simons: Mayor, it's good to have here and thanks for joining us, we appreciate it.
Jerry Weiers: Thank you, you bet.
Jerry Weiers:Mayor, Glendale;