Hockey fans rhetorically cross-checked the Glendale City Council during and after a hearing that ultimately resulted in the municipality’s termination of its $15 million per year subsidy for the Arizona Coyotes.
But were they directing their ire at the right people?
Having an NHL franchise in the Valley is a very good thing. While the team has never made the Stanley Cup Finals or hosted an All-Star Game (it had the misfortune of so hosting that extravaganza during a strike year) professional hockey contributes to the area’s quality of life. It helps economic development efforts.
But should it be in Arizona at any and all cost to the City of Glendale? After spending $180 million on an arena it decided to fork over $15 million per year to keep the team there on a 4-3 vote in 2013. Those who question Glendale’s commitment to hockey now should recall what it has generously done previously.
What’s not is that any city that forks over so much money each year – effectively becoming one’s largest sponsor – shouldn’t be treated by the team as a best friend, not an irritant. After all Glendale is diverting money from police, fire and other needs to float wealthy owners and their players.
But that’s not the way team executives treated Glendale’s generosity. They apparently hid financial information. The new owner couldn’t find time to meet with city officials for months after acquisition.
Shouldn’t this have been the first order of business? Does anyone think the Gila River Indian Community which pays the team a fraction of what Glendale does for arena naming rights is treated with such disdain?
Of course not. Political arrogance or malpractice or both are what caused the team to lose Glendale. And this observation doesn’t involve itself with the purported unethical behavior by Glendale’s former City Attorney now in the employ of the Coyotes.
It never should have come to this. This was political communication 101. If it was a class it was failed miserably by the team’s CEO whose job, presumably, involved interaction with the city.
If he is serious about remedying relations with Glendale, majority owner Anthony Barroway should start by firing Anthony LeBlanc.
While LeBlanc’s tenacity led to preserving the team in Glendale in 2013 – albeit at a cost of $15 million to the city – he has now proven to be way over his head when it comes to commanding all facets of such a significant job. Not only did the team demise to its worst record ever while in Phoenix this past year, LeBlanc is the one who could have prevented this train wreck but did not.
Phoenix Suns’ President Lon Babby stepped down yesterday after 5 years in the position without a playoff berth. It’s time for LeBlanc to do the same. Or for Barroway to do it for him and in so doing provide the best possible opportunity for a better future in Glendale . . . or Phoenix.
If the NHL or the Arizona Coyotes have a trick up their sleeve to escape the sponsor, ticketing, marketing and financial torment Glendale has volleyed to them it will rear its head almost immediately as the league schedule for all teams is supposed to be announced June 22nd. Once upon a time the Winnipeg Jets moved very swiftly to become the Phoenix Coyotes. If such rapidity in reverse is not in the cards for this franchise in the next fortnight then they are stuck with Glendale for at least a year. And as the majority owner we can’t imagine why the person ultimately writing the checks would want the person around who really messed this thing up with Glendale.