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Dispatches

Good riddance

friday essay logoEarlier this week, the Glendale City Council came to their senses and realized that they couldn’t afford to keep the Glendale, Ariz., Coyotes. While I welcome that realization, I wonder what took so long.

Public (read: taxpayer) funding of sports stadiums are always a losing proposition. While I could share formulas and case studies that prove my point, it boils down to simple economics and the following statement: If stadiums did, in fact, make money and were profitable, team owners would privately finance the building of those facilities. Since that doesn’t happen, we’re all on the hook.

A great book I read recently is Circus Maximus: The Economic Gamble Behind Hosting the Olympics and World Cup by the Smith College and Brookings Institution professor, Andrew Zimbalist. It certainly should be on the urbanist’s bookshelf. Dr. Zimbalist appeared on Olbermann a few months ago to talk about his book.

To those who think that the Coyotes should move back to downtown Phoenix, I ask this: What City of Phoenix programs are you willing to sacrifice for this endeavor…parks? Community arts grants? After school education? Public safety? Infrastructure? As it emerged after the fire of the downtown Phoenix Sheraton that the City was using funds meant for repairs or replacement of the Gila River Arena (previously US Airways Center) to patch the shortfall created by the hotel’s operation, the City is not in a position to build a new arena.

When the Glendale, Ariz., Coyotes renamed at the start of the 2014-2015 season to be the geographically agnostic “Arizona Coyotes,” I sensed the beginning of the end was in sight. The Coyotes had played in suburban Glendale starting in the 2003-2004 season and were still called the Phoenix Coyotes. Nobody was confused. But with new management for the beleaguered franchise, the name raced to nowhere and we’re left with the “Arizona Coyotes.”

My one request to the Coyotes’ owners and to the National Hockey League: Don’t make this a giant legal battle to stay in suburban Glendale. They’ve clearly said that they don’t want you. Take this as a cue to relocate. Isn’t there considerable interest to put a team in Las Vegas or Seattle? Take a cue from the playbook of the Indianapolis-née-Baltimore Colts: Leave in the middle of the night.

But unlike the Colts, we won’t send our State Police to stop you.