It’s time for Greg Jamison to put his (or other people’s) money where his mouth is.
Yesterday the city of Glendale approved a re-worked 20-year arena lease with Jamison that would have the city pay him $320 million over that time for him to run the arena. They had, in the past, turned down a deal that would pay Jamison $324 million, because apparently that would’ve sunk the city. $320M? Let the good times roll.
Jamison has said that with the approval of the deal, the purchase of the team could be wrapped up in the next 30-60 days. He’d be buying the team from the NHL, who currently runs it (with assistance from a couple 25 million dollar payments from the city of Glendale), for 170 million dollars. He says he has the investors to help him get there, and just needed this to go through to be able to pull the trigger.
The lease is not as heavily front-loaded as the previous version. The first year’s payment to Jamison, ostensibly to manage the arena, was reduced from $17-million to $11-million. There are also penalties if Jamison does not bring in at least 30 non-hockey events per year.
But the city of 250,000 still has to pay Jamison a total of $60-million in years two through five of the lease. There will be a reduction in the first year’s payment, since it will be pro-rated because of the NHL lockout, which is about to enter its fourth month.
But the city will be fine, right?
Acting city manager Horatio Skeete said the Coyotes lease will mean $4-million to $6-million in cuts will have to be made in the short-term, with a total of $20-million in cuts necessary within five years. If there is no NHL team, Skeete said, the cuts would be reduced to $12-million over five years.
Ahhh, who really needs firefighters and police in a gun-happy desert state, amirite? (Oh crap, everyone? …Moving on.)
The vote passed 4-2, with one of the two nays coming from outgoing mayor Elaine Scruggs, who’s quotes are basically a step away from saying “I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!” She’s not what the kids would describe as “down” with the Coyotes being in town, for financial reasons.
I spent the last three years of my life in Phoenix, and attended sevearal Coyotes games. Please note that as a hockey writer, I said “several” over three years, which isn’t that impressive. That’s because I lived in the Tempe/Chandler area (y’know, where the population is), and I didn’t enjoy driving an hour (depending on traffic) to a game I couldn’t have a pint at (because I’m not getting on Sheriff Joe Arpaio‘s highways with so much as a beer in me). I’d rather watch from home.
However, I can tell you this: once you get to a Coyotes game, it is a blast. Westgate Plaza, the area that surrounds the arena, is terrific. Jobing.com Arena is excellent. And, there is a real core of fans there, who know the game and attend religiously. I’m interested to see if that core swells with some stability there.
As silly as everyone thinks the city of Glendale is for scrapping to keep the ‘Yotes, I have zero doubt that their huge, Vegas-esque investement in the Plaza would go right to hell without the team. The pubs and restaurants are jammed on gamedays. While it may cost them some dough up front, in the long-term they need that team to survive.
Once this deal goes through, it’s on to the marketers. The building is where it is in the city (on farmland north of Phoenix). The team is what it is on the ice (solid, well-coached). And things aren’t going anywhere. They’ve got to find a way to fill that building with some consistency (may I suggest some shuttles, perchance?).
If this is happening – and it appears that it is – Glendale has a lot of work to do to make things right.