Public arena cash helped fuel Coyotes snafu

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:24 AM ET

All those fans who believe government money should be used to help build arenas in Quebec City, Edmonton and Calgary had best look at what happened in Glendale and the Phoenix Coyotes.

When push came to shove, the Arizona city was forced to make one concession after another to keep the club in the desert.

After all, the city of Glendale made a sweetheart deal years ago when it built the rink ó known these days as the Jobing.com Arena ó for US$180 million in 2003 and assumed a debt for 30 years and couldnít let it be without a primary tenant.

ďWhat shall we do, lock it up, turn off the lights and then pay the debt on the arena?Ē Glendale mayor Elaine Scruggs recently told a community meeting.

New Coyotes owner Matt Hulsizer bought the team for a reported price of US$170 million but was given $100 million from the city of Glendale for the arena parking rights.

Plus, the city added another $97 million in subsidies over the next five-plus years. His rent is $6 million per year, with the right to purchase the facility.

Hereís the flaw of building an arena with government money all for a private enterprise.

When teams need to extract more money out of their massive bank machines, they do it by threatening to leave.

Yes, NHL teams help the economy. Visiting teams and fans from other cities put money into the coffers of local businesses.

However, a huge amount of the money which NHL teams generate are dollars circulating within the city. If some oil company didnít spend that money on tickets at the Saddledome, it would spend the cash some other way within the city.

This is not to say NHL teams donít do great things for a city. Calgary, for example, has been fortunate to have an ownership group which knew the importance of giving back from the day the Flames arrived from Atlanta.

But writing blank checks doesnít work, especially when teams know they have the powers that be worried about being stuck with a potential white elephant.

Flaming C-notes

After watching the HBO 24/7 series following the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals, was anybody surprised how much swearing goes on, especially the coaches when their team is struggling in a game? Washington head coach Bruce Boudreau cursed a blue streak, but thatís no shock. ďThere are buttons that need to be pushed,Ē said Flames defenceman Cory Sarich. ďIf thereís a coach that hasnít had a moment, then theyíre very special.Ē Sarich has had Brent Sutter and John Tortorella, as coaches, so heís played for his share of fiery people ... Gus Thorsonís back injuries made him step away from the organization after last season, but heís not stepping away from hockey. Thorson, who spent 30 years of his life fixing equipment, including more than a decade with the Flames, has opened Breakaway Sports Repair at the new multiplex facility at Canada Olympic Park. If you need something fixed, youíd be hard pressed to find somebody better than the affable trainer who also spent a decade working for Team Canada.

Hockey talky

Credit to Tom Reed of the Columbus Dispatch for digging up this nugget after the Flames scored twice in the first five minutes and sent starting goalie Steve Mason to the bench earlier this week: Since the start of 2009-10 season, no goalie has been pulled from more starts than Mason, according to Elias Sport Bureau. Mason had been hooked for the 11th time, and without Mike Keenan as his bench boss ... As much as you want to give the Dallas Stars credit, their overtime/shootout success makes you question them. Going into Thursday nightís game against San Jose, the Stars were on a 3-1-1 run, with all three victories in extra time. Their mark in extra time this season: 7-2 ... Just imagine how good the Detroit Red Wings would be if Jiri Hudler brought back his scoring touch when he returned from a year in Russiaís KHL ... Itís funny to think the Columbus Blue Jackets have mothballed their third jersey after losing the first four games in them. Could you imagine what the New York Islanders did if they trashed uniforms after every prolonged streak. Shirts and skins anyone? ... As good as the Red Wings have been, just canít help but think the Vancouver Canucks are the best team in the West.

You donít say

ďOh, I donít know about that. Itís not like weíre in Carolina or something like that. Iím sure itís special even if he doesnít say it.Ē


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