Corporate Welfare

Broke Arizona Town Wastes Nearly 10% of its Annual Budget Subsidizing Professional Hockey

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You can't unsee

But hey, Glendale, Arizona, at least you're a big-league city now! The Wall Street Journal adds up the grisly corporate-welfare math:

The city is obligated to make debt payments on the [city-built Jobing.com] arena that average $12.6 million a year. To keep the team afloat, moreover, the city has been paying a so-called "arena management fee" of nearly $25 million a year to the NHL, which three years ago bought the Coyotes out of bankruptcy.

The NHL has announced a tentative sale to a group headed by former San Jose Sharks executive Greg Jamison, under terms that would essentially institutionalize Glendale's commitments. Under the proposal that the NHL has laid out for city council members, the city would continue paying an arena-management fee that would average about $14.5 million a year.

On top of the city's average $12.6 million in debt service, that amounts to annual expenses of about $27.1 million—to be offset by anticipated Coyotes-related revenue of $14.2 million, according to projections by Glendale's city management department. That adds up to a projected annual loss for Glendale of $12.9 million.

By the time the new ownership deal ran its course in 2033, Glendale would have paid $271 million—nearly $1,200 for each of its 226,721 citizens—to keep the team.

These expenses outweigh Glendale's Coyotes-related revenue by such a degree that Moody's has downgraded the city's bond rating twice in the last 18 months, citing the city's ongoing hockey payments. In part due to the Coyotes, the city's reserve fund has fallen to $11.7 million from $72.5 million six years ago. Facing a projected $35 million budget gap—in a city whose general revenue funds in the most recent fiscal year amounted to $142.6 million—Glendale is proposing to raise its property and sales tax rates, while slashing library hours and hiking fees for city services.

I will not believe that governments have "cut to the bone" until I look across the land and see no more stories like this.

Link via the Twitter feed of Steve Chapman. Readers may recall that one of the Coyotes' biggest booster-socialists is Sen. John McCain.