If Tuesday afternoon’s city council workshop was any indication of how next week’s evening meeting will go, then citizens should buckle up.
During the almost four-hour meeting, councilmembers heatedly discussed a proposed new deal that would attempt to keep the Phoenix Coyotes in Glendale. The revised agreement will go before councilmembers to vote Nov. 27 during a regular evening meeting.
Although the deadline for Greg Jamison to buy the team from the NHL has been extended several times, Jamison still contends he plans on purchasing the team.
The latest version of the management agreement offers incentives for Jamison to promote booking more events on top of the hockey games at Jobing.com Arena.
Interim City Manager Horatio Skeete, who helped rework the management agreement, told councilmembers during the workshop he didn’t think they should vote in favor of the new agreement.
“It’s a job well done, but we can’t afford it,” he said.
Skeete said while he may agree keeping the team here would be good for the long-term plan, in order to do so, the city would be forced to make significant cuts to city departments and services in the next five years.
Even without the approval of the new agreement to keep the team, the city would need to cut an estimated $12 million from its budget. If council voted in favor of keeping the team, the city would have to cut an estimated $20 million from the general fund. The general fund pays for city provided services, as well as the police and fire department budgets. Skeete said the amount would be the equivalent of cutting approximately 200 city jobs in the next five years.
The newest re-worked agreement proposes the city pay Jamison $320 million over a 20-year period to manage the team, as well as bring other entertainment acts to the arena the rest of the year. The re-worked agreement has the city’s payments reduced in the beginning years in an attempt to ease the burden by saving the city an estimated $4 million. Still, it would be an extremely large sum for the city to come up with, when it is already planning for a negative budget.
Skeete said regardless of whether the team stays or leaves, projections for the city’s budget are showing a deficit.
The city council approved a $324 million agreement earlier in June. However, after considering the budget and proposed cuts to city services, councilmembers and city executives asked to revisit the agreement in hopes of reducing payments to Jamison. In August, they revised the $324 million plan.
Scruggs, who previously supported the plan, now has said she doesn’t approve paying millions to an owner when city services are being cut. Councilmember Norma Alvarez has also stated her opposition to paying to keep the team as city employees are being let go. Councilmember Yvonne Knaack did not indicate one way or another which way she would vote. Vice Mayor Steve Frate and Councilmembers Manny Martinez, and Joyce Clark indicated they believed keeping the team would be the best decision for the long term.
Supporters of keeping the hockey team in Glendale claim losing the team would be a loss in revenue and money spent at entertainment and dining areas such as Westgate.
Councilmembers will vote on the new agreement at 7 p.m. during a regular meeting Nov. 27 in city council chambers, 5850 W. Glendale Ave.