GLENDALE (AP) — A deal he helped renegotiate to keep the Phoenix Coyotes in the city’s arena is simply too expensive for the city, Glendale’s interim city manager said.
The deal might be in the best long-term interests of the city but would require $6 million in additional general fund cuts on top of $12 million already expected because of a budget crunch, interim City Manager Horatio Skeete told the City Council at a Tuesday night workshop. He said he could not recommend the deal because making $20 million in cuts could mean cutting about 200 positions in the next five years.
It’s a “job well done, but we can’t afford it,” Skeete said of the city quest to keep the team.
The Arizona Republic reports City Council members had a heated debate about the proposed $320 million arena-management agreement with potential Coyotes buyer Greg Jamison at the meeting, and agreed to vote on the deal at its Nov. 27 meeting.
If the council rejects the deal, the fate of the arena and the Coyotes may be decided by a new lineup of City Council members who take office Jan.15. Based on statements made during the campaign, a majority of the new council would likely oppose the Jamison deal.
A City Council majority has previously supported the deal. That includes Vice Mayor Steve Frate and council members Joyce Clark, Yvonne Knaack and Manny Martinez. They have argued that it’s in Glendale’s long-term interest to have the hockey team as the anchor tenant in the city-funded Jobing.com Arena, which Glendale spent $180 million to open in 2003 as a concert and hockey venue.
Outgoing Mayor Elaine Scruggs, who supported Coyotes deals in the past, has become an opponent. Glendale would have to cut too many services, she said Tuesday.
“We are really going to destroy what Glendale is,” she said.
In June, the council approved a $324 million pact, a key step in a plan to keep the hockey team. Glendale leaders asked the city manager in August to renegotiate the deal and the newest version of the agreement helps Glendale because it lowers payments in the early years of the 20-year deal, saving the city $4 million.
Then-owner Jerry Moyes put the Coyotes into bankruptcy in 2009 and the National Hockey League has owned the team since then. Glendale has pledged $50 million in the past two years to operate the team and arena.
On Tuesday night, Jamison said he is still prepared to move ahead with the purchase.
“We fully intended to buy the team, but we are waiting for the vote and then we will move as quickly as we possibly can,” Jamison said.