Goldwater Institute ponders next move in Glendale records fight

Posted on August 05, 2009 | Type: In the News
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The Goldwater Institute vowed recently to continue legal action against Glendale until the city revealed sensitive information about negotiations with Phoenix Coyotes bidders.
Now the conservative watchdog is considering what new action to take after key parts of the confidential talks were leaked by lawyers for team owner Jerry Moyes on Friday, giving the institute a big break.
According to court documents, Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who wants to buy the bankrupt hockey team for $148 million, proposed the city create a special taxing district surrounding Glendale's Westgate City Center and sports facilities. As much as $23 million per year generated from added taxes on retail sales would shore up the perennially money-losing Coyotes.
The Glendale City Council has not voted to accept Reinsdorf's plan, nor is there any indication city officials endorse it.
Goldwater attorneys oppose local governments giving money or tax breaks to help private businesses. They sued the city in June demanding records of negotiations, aiming to unveil financial concessions promised by the city to bidders.
Glendale leaders maintained they would not put city money into a team owner's pockets.
On Friday, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge ordered Glendale to release 35 pages of documents Goldwater had requested but kept shut an additional 287 pages.
"Disclosure of the majority of the documents would have a devastating impact on the city's ability to negotiate with the bidders," Judge Edward Burke decided.
Much of the information in the disclosed records is not new.
The documents indicate the economic impact Coyotes fans have on Glendale.
A graph of sales-tax revenue since Arena opened in 2003 shows a spike in business at nearby restaurants and shops in October and November, when hockey season begins.
Attendance at Coyotes games has been higher since the team moved from downtown Phoenix to Glendale, the records point out.
But Glendale also takes aim at current team owner Moyes.
"Since Moyes took ownership of the Coyotes, team attendance has decreased each year," it says.
Ice Edge Holdings, a group of American and Canadian backers, also made an offer for the franchise, up to $150 million. The group wants to hold five Coyotes home games in Canada to increase revenue.
Burke noted both Reinsdorf and Ice Edge say their bids depend on negotiating with Glendale.
As soon as city officials decide to bring a deal to the City Council, Glendale must reveal the rest of its documents, the judge ordered.
Glendale taxpayers should "have sufficient time to digest, analyze and prepare to comment on any proposed agreement and/or concessions," he said.
Meanwhile, a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge has postponed until Sept. 10 the auction of the team to any party that would keep it in the Valley.

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