In my five years in public office, the people of Tempe have not asked for an entertainment district.
They have been crying out for housing, elder care, child care and jobs. They called for fully funded schools and solutions to the ongoing effects of the pandemic.
The entertainment district offered by the Arizona Coyotes in Tempe answers only one of these demands – employment – and very partially to that. The city council should abandon the whole project.
In promotional materials, the hockey team talks about its $1.7 billion “Manica” neighborhood at Rio Salado Parkway and Priest Drive in seductive terms that describe a luxurious “one-stop destination” that would create jobs and generate income. net new taxes.
They brag about taxes but want years of free rides
But take a closer look at their business scheme and it turns out that it’s not at all desirable for the current residents of Tempe. This would essentially involve giving a proven bad economic actor – the current owner of the Coyotes – generous tax giveaways and thereby depriving our city of additional funds for the much-needed services mentioned above.
The beleaguered NHL team promises to turn a 46-acre city-owned site into a “regional landmark” that would include a multi-purpose arena (the team’s future home), a concert hall, retail retail and “upscale” offices, more than 1,600 residential units, and “boutique” and “convention” hotels.
Ongoing litigation:Phoenix wants to halt Coyotes development in Tempe
The Coyotes make sure to repeatedly tout the estimated 6,900 permanent jobs and $215 million in net new taxes (over 30 years) the project would bring to Tempe.
What they don’t share so openly is that they’re also asking for a 30-year and 8-year Government Land Lease Excise Tax (GPLET) of over $649 million in abatements. taxes, or a 65-year tax and an 8-year GPLET that would total over $1.1 billion in tax abatements.
Is this the behavior Tempe wants to reward?
And then there’s the Coyotes’ dishonorable tax record under current owner Alex Meruelo, who took over the franchise in July 2019.
At first, his tenure was mired in “a turbulent transition in business operations, contentious financial disputes between the team and its contractors and suppliers, a wave of layoffs and resignations of key employees, and upheaval within from the front office,” as a deepening exposed by The Athletic put it in early 2021.
Just six months later, after months of stalled negotiations with the Coyotes over a joint lease agreement for Gila River Arena, the City of Glendale had reached a point of no return, choosing to fire the team from by June, a decision all City Council members backed last summer, according to the sports publication.
As The Athletic reported last August, negotiations between the city and the Coyotes fell apart after months of stalled negotiations and “multiple notices regarding unpaid and overdue balances” owed by the hockey team in under their rental agreement.
The publication also revealed that the Gila River Arena informed the Coyotes that the team owed the arena $1,462,792 as of July 17, 2021, and of that amount, $300,000 was “more than four months past due.” .
Is this really the kind of corporate behavior the city of Tempe wants to reward for the next 30 to 65 years?
I do not think so. And as the many residents who have spoken out against the project at several city council meetings show, I am far from alone.
Like Glendale, our community deserves better.
Representative Athena Salman, Democrat, represents Tempe in Legislative District 26. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.