Officials in Glendale, Ariz., have authorized up to $25 million in payments to the NHL to keep the Phoenix Coyotes playing in the city-owned Jobing.com Arena next season, but not if a local conservative think-tank can help it.
The Goldwater Institute has cried foul over what it sees as excessive subsidies by the city to private businesses, reportedly a violation of the state constitution’s gift clause.
A group representative reportedly said it would be “pushing to file soon” over the city’s deal with the NHL.
The league purchased the Coyotes out of bankruptcy last year and said at the time it would attempt to find a buyer that would keep the team in the city.
Canadian-American investor group Ice Edge Holdings and Chicago sports tycoon Jerry Reinsdorf’s Glendale Hockey investment group have made bids for the Coyotes, but neither has been approved for ownership.
In the meantime, Glendale offered to make payments to offset the NHL’s operating losses should the search to find a new owner run past June 30.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said during a meeting with city councilors that the league is expecting the sale to close soon, which would terminate the need for the payments.
“From our perspective, this is nothing more than an insurance policy,” Daly said. “We feel confident an ownership transaction can happen and it can happen in an expeditious fashion.”
But should the sale not happen soon, the city may institute user fees for eventgoers at Jobing.com Arena and form a special taxing district near the venue, according to the Arizona Republic.
Goldwater attorney Carrie Ann Sitren told the paper it’s not the city’s place “to spend public resources, using their tax system and collection system to collect that money for the Coyotes.”