Glendale offers Coyotes a sweet deal

(Reuters file photo)

(Reuters file photo)

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:47 AM ET

No wonder Winnipeg didn't get the Jets back.

Have you seen the deal the city of Glendale is about to sign to keep the Coyotes in Arizona?

It makes the old Interim Operating Agreement between the Jets and City of Winnipeg look like the deal of the century for taxpayers.

You remember that little gem, which forced the city to cover the team's losses back in the day?

If I remember correctly, that arrangement cost us between $15 million and $20 million that final Jets season. Spare change, folks, compared to what Joe Public is coughing up down in Arizona.

Basically, if you live in Glendale you're committing everything but your first-born to new owner Matt Hulsizer, whether you've heard of the Coyotes or not.

Here's the Coles Notes version.

Hulsizer has agreed to buy the beleaguered franchise from the NHL, reported price some $170 million.

That number, however, is as inflated as Sean Avery's ego, carefully crafted by the NHL to artificially prop up franchise values.

Sure, Hulsizer will write a cheque for $170 million to the NHL. Then he'll immediately cash a cheque for $100 million from the city of Glendale. In exchange, he'll give up the arena parking rights.

Not content with that, the new Coyotes owner got Glendale to throw in another $97 million in subsidies over the next five and a half years. That's Hulsizer's payment to run the arena, a cost that was previously borne by the team.

Oh, and Hulsizer also has a right to purchase the facility, outright, eventually. In the meantime, he'll continue to pay $6 million a year to rent the place, the same amount the previous owner paid.

Now, I don't have the letters "CGA" behind my name, but that sounds like a pretty sweet deal.

And it underlines the desperation Glendale politicians feel over keeping the team.

That city spent $180 million to build its arena in 2003, amortizing its debt for 30 years. With 23 years to go, the prospect of losing the anchor tenant sent councillors into a panic.

"What shall we do, lock it up, turn off the lights and then pay the debt on the arena?" Glendale mayor Elaine Scruggs told a community meeting last week.

So at a council meeting today, Scruggs and Co. will, in all likelihood, approve the new lease, thereby continuing the farce that is hockey in Arizona.

So is this what Winnipeg, or Quebec City, have to compete with, every time a financially troubled franchise makes leaving noises -- local politicians folding like lawn chairs and making deals that'll cause their grandkids to scratch their heads?

I don't think so.

This was a unique situation, brought on by a bad initial idea: building a taxpayer-funded arena way out in Glendale.

If the Coyotes were leaking red ink in their first home in downtown Phoenix, they've been gushing ever since the move, alienating many of their fans geographically in addition to the bad impression they've been leaving, artistically.

Things are so bad for the NHL's worst draw that Hulsizer admits he won't make money for years, even with this sweetheart deal.

Wonder what previous owner Jerry Moyes is thinking. Moyes, remember, threw his team into bankruptcy, partly because he couldn't rework his lease with Glendale.

Think he might have liked these new terms?

How about previous suitors Jerry Reinsdorf and the Ice Edge Holdings gang? They were spurned because they were asking for too much.

What more could they have wanted?

Glendale's first-born, we presume.

There's not much else left.

Twitter@friesensunmedia


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