Pillaging Of A Small Town Goes On
Imagine the City of Toronto had built Air Canada Centre for MLSE. (Not that hard to imagine given the history of sports facilities in the GTA, huh?)
Now imagine every spring Rob Ford would write an additional $15 million cheque from taxpayers monies to Larry Tanenbaum just for staying put, and ask for less than $1 million annually in rent.
Think a few people might be upset?
That's the deal the "Arizona" Coyotes will get if a proposal put before city council in Glendale, Arizona on Thursday is approved and if no taxpayer watchdog groups get in the way.
This is a 20-year proposal, and the Coyotes would have to pay a relocation fee of $250-$350 million to get out of the deal, which sounds an awful lot like an amount people in a couple of Canadian markets might be willing to pay for an NHL franchise.
It's hard to believe they'd consider such a deal. But at this point, if this is what the elected politicians of that town want to stop this team from moving to Quebec City, and if Gary Bettman along with new owner Greg Jamison can sleep at night while they rape the taxpayers of a town that's basically bankrupt, this may be exactly what happens.
The good news? if it does happen, we can all stop caring about this godforsaken franchise.
This is of course after years of having Glendale taxpayers subsidize this money-losing operation already. The evidence at hand is that only about 10,000 or so fans want this team, or want to watch it, on a regular basis, plus the other bunch of folks that turn up at playoff time. Given that the Coyotes have been a very successful team for several seasons, there's little reason to believe suddenly folks will start turning up for November games against Nashville in much larger numbers.
Indeed, there's probably a much greater chance attendance could drop if the team slides downwards in the standings. The thinly-veiled subsidy to Jamison and Co. certainly won't motivate the team to spend more on players; every dollar that goes out will reduce that average annual $15 million free lunch from the city.
I guess if politicians detect a real passion to keep the team in Glendale under any circumstances, then they're doing what the people want. That seems unlikely. All this deal will likely do is allow the NHL to crow it was able to keep the team in the desert. That it comes on the backs of taxpayers to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars won't make it into the press release.