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NHL Manages Arena And Glendale City Coffers To Empty

The Glendale City Council will hand the NHL another $25 million tonight for planned perfect attendance.

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GLENDALE AZ :  General view of Arena before the NHL game between the Detroit Red Wings and the Phoenix Coyotes in Glendale Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
GLENDALE AZ : General view of Arena before the NHL game between the Detroit Red Wings and the Phoenix Coyotes in Glendale Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The Glendale City Council has set their course. It's hockey or hell to the bitter end. No amount of beggingpleading, or comparing them to a self-immolating showman rolling in broken glass will turn their heads from their perpetual chase for 41 guaranteed dates in their Hindenburg with shopping and condos, Arena.

Tonight, the City Council will vote to extend another $25 million to the NHL to manage the arena, masking the damage by noting they will only pay it to cover losses if they happen. This is only slightly less likely to occur than hearing the phrase "dry heat" on your flight back to Phoenix; the league says the losses were actually $37 million. (Suggestion: offer that their oven at home is also a dry heat; maybe they could practice there next time before heading to Arizona.)

Glendale, who actually used the word "unexpected" in their agenda for tonight's meeting to describe Jerry Moyes' Coyotes-based bankruptcy in 2009, tell us in a press release (PDF) that the money couldn't be used for other needs because someone has to book and staff those events. That's worth $25 million, according to Glendale. 

Let's look at the job the NHL is currently doing as arena planners. Here's the entire published event schedule for summer 2011 (May-August):

Kenny Chesney, Yanni, Britney Spears, Street League Skateboarding, FOX 10 Dance Day.

(Actually, that's just May-July; August is empty. September, too.)

This list might suggest planning events has not consumed the time of NHL management as much as $25 million would imply. It's really not fair, though, to look at a list of summer events. Arizona empties out its snowbirds and entertainment acts in the heat. After all, look at the schedule for the comparably-sized and centrally-located US Airways Center:

Phoenix Mercury games, Arizona Rattlers games, Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus, WWE Smackdown, New Kids On The Block & Backstreet Boys, American Idol Live, Josh Groban, Vicente Fernandez, Rush

Oh. So this is awkward. This doesn't even list the 15+ acts at Comerica Theatre that are better-suited for the 5,000-seat venue anyway. Is this what $25 million of arena management buys?

Of course not and Glendale admits it. The City Council doesn't list "competent bookings" among their four reasons to pay the NHL again. Instead, they clearly state it's about paying off the NHL to keep the Coyotes in town for another season and hopefully finding an owner to keep them in town. In other words, it's a premature perfect attendance award.

They also claim they're "protect(ing) the city's investment in (the) Sports and Entertainment District". It's pretty safe already; no one can even find the Sports and Entertainment District, much less steal it. Obscurity is a security strategy of sorts.

The City Council also claims the following: "When a final owner is approved, the city will be in a position to initiate action to recover some of the funding invested during the interim period." 

The Glendale City Council would be better served driving the money to an open space, dousing it in gasoline, and then tossing matches at it. May we suggest holding this event at Arena? It's surprisingly available.