Monday, March 21, 2011

Ice ice baby

First off, I must admit to not being a hockey fan. I blame the overall lack of ice in Phoenix during the late 50's to the late 60's, a period I fondly call my formative years. (Dude, this guy is old!)

Like soccer, ice hockey is a game I just didn't play as a kid. And because of that, it's more or less foreign to me. (Although I will say this about "the beautiful game" as we're encouraged to call it every 4 years when the World Cup rolls around: after watching a little FIFA "action" I'm beginning to understand how all the armies of Europe could sit in trenches staring at each other from 1914-1917.) (But then I'm a philistine about so many things.)

Over the years I've seen a couple of hockey games in person (somehow ending up with Wayne Gretzky's autograph, which will be on e-bay just as soon as I remember where I put it), a few on television, and they were...well....OK. I certainly haven't made an effort to see any more. So, frankly I really couldn't care less about the Phoenix Coyotes. Stay or go, it won't affect me one way or the other. The taxpayers of Glendale, on the other hand, might be feeling the effects for many years. Ultimately they are the ones who will be paying off all of the interest and principal on whatever bonds the city issues to keep the team in Glendale.

Mayor Elaine Scruggs and the Glendale city council have rolled the dice on a number of grand projects over the last decade or so. As far as I can tell, with the possible exception of the University of Phoenix stadium, (which really was a statewide boondoggle and not strictly speaking a Glendale one), not one of them has paid off yet.

Westgate, the Steve Ellman mixed use development that surrounds the hockey arena is where chain restaurants you've never heard of go to die. All that's missing most nights are the tumbleweeds blowing through. The big plans the Bidwill family had to develop the land surrounding "their" football stadium disappeared in a cloud of unpaid loans (hard to imagine the Bidwill's screwing something up, isn't it?) Camelback Ranch, the spring training site that Glendale and Phoenix share is about 2 years behind in building all of the outside amenities the teams were promised for their fans. And the Indian tribe that wants to build a casino just north of the Glendale "Sports and Entertainment Hub" is probably going to prevail against the city in court.

Yeah, it's a perfect time to commit the city of Glendale to another $100 million or so in high interest bonds to bribe the hockey team to stay there. I mean, why not? After all, the previous owner only lost $300 million trying to keep the team afloat. Who knows, another 2-300 million and maybe they can turn a profit. Or at least break even.

If Scruggs were a sympathetic character, I might shed a tear over all the problems her "vision" has brought and will continue to bring to sleepy little Glendale. But she isn't, so I won't. (Besides, the good folks of Glendale keep electing her, so they must be happy, and that's all that matters.)

Blind hubris never led to a happy ending in the ancient Greek dramas, and it continues to be a bitch in modern times.

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