For a lot of sports fans, politics has a tendency to rear its ugly head only at the most inopportune times. After years of financial strugglings, NHL fans in Phoenix rejoiced last Friday upon an agreement to keep the team in the city with a 20 year, $324 million lease.
Now, the Arizona Central is reporting that seven candidates vying for Glendale City Council seats oppose the current council's decision and are requesting a delay in signing the lease agreement with potential new owner Greg Jamison.
The letter, which mayoral candidates Walt Opaska and Jerry Weiers also signed, cites monetary concerns about whether the city can afford the lease, especially with two potential ballot measures that would cripple the city's plan.
One group is gathering signatures to refer the deal to a popular vote in November and the other hopes to reverse a sales tax increase that would be used to finance the agreement as well as require a citizen vote on any future tax hikes.
The Coyotes have spent the last few years battling bankruptcy and relocation threats until Jamison emerged with an offer to purchase the team, which is contingent upon a tax-payer funded $325 million agreement. Understandably with such a large amount of money in tight economic times, some people are concerned the city of Glendale will be able to properly finance the deal in the long term without crippling the budget beyond repair in the future.
The text of the letter as presented to the current city council:
To: Elaine M. Scruggs, Mayor
Horatio Skeete, City Manager
As Glendale citizens and candidates running for city offices, we respectfully requested our city manager and present council to delay signing the Jobing.com Arena lease with a Coyotes owner.
We are concerned there may not be ample funds to pay everything the lease promises.
We also believe Glendale should take this position before Greg Jamison buys the team. The city should be able to do this now without having legal problems or penalties.
Mayoral candidate Walt Opaska
Mayoral candidate Jerry Weiers
Cactus District candidate Ian Hugh
Cactus District candidate Vince Ornelas
Cactus District candidate Stew Radawec
Sahuaro District candidate Diane Douglas
Sahuaro District candidate Anthony Kern
The groups gathering signatures will know within the next couple of weeks whether or not the measures will appear on the November ballot. Signatures for the reversal of the sales-tax hike are due on Thursday July 5th, and the signatures for the popular vote of the deal are due Monday July 9th.