Two nights ago, the Glendale City Council voted to approve a lease agreement with erstwhile Phoenix Coyotes buyer Greg Jamison, moving what has become a three-year ownership saga closer to completion.
Even this step took a bit of work. A lease was negotiated months ago but never signed by the council because of the then-impending and now-happening NHL Lockout. And a citizens group decided to take the sales tax needed to fund a portion of the deal to the November ballot, where the proposition to prohibit the sales tax (and also require more or less any tax increase to be put to a vote) was soundly defeated.
Tuesday’s vote remained in doubt more or less until it occurred but, now that it’s complete, it’s left for Jamison to bring the cash and the NHL to give the rubber stamp approval that has been pending this entire time.
Oh, and we also have to deal with the “watchdog” Goldwater Institute, which seems to exist to stick its nose into everyone’s business without any particular charter to do so. (Rumor is if they attempt a suit to block the lease, Jamison will counter-sue them for getting in the way. That could be fun.)
Not all is perfect with this scenario, mind you. City officials say millions in cuts will be made to allow for the lease and attached management deal to be executed; millions in cuts are going to be necessary with or without the lease and arena management deal, it’s a matter of how many millions and it’s unquestionably more with the arena.
Politics as Revisionist History
At the same time, at least to my mind, not working to keep the team here makes little sense. If you want to argue building Jobing.Com Arena in the first place was a mistake, fine. I’ll buy that argument. But to try and close the proverbial barn door now with the ludicrous argument that the 40-odd dates normally filled by the Coyotes can just as easily be filled by other events denies the basic reality that even a poorly-attended Coyotes game is a bigger draw than most other events, not just for the arena but for the surrounding restaurants and shops not just in the Westgate City Center where the arena’s located but the surrounding area as well.
In general, someone is more likely to enjoy a beverage or three at the Yardhouse or Margaritaville before a hockey game than before Cirque du Soleil. (I’ve tried eating in Westgate before both, it’s not much of a debate.)
While the city’s survival doesn’t depend on Westgate, its presence is part of the attraction for those who come to Jobing.Com Arena. It’s a destination location even for the locals, with a multiplex movie theater, a wide variety of restaurants and a new outlet mall on the far west end of the property. While it won’t ever be a retail location akin to the Arrowhead Towne Center and neighboring power centers, Westgate is a magnet that will attract money from within and without the Valley.
The Quarter at Westgate
And, oh by the way, there also is a real estate component to the Westgate area, not even factoring in the surrounding neighborhoods.
Largely due to the collapse of the Arizona real estate market a few years ago, the townhouses at the Quarter at Westgate have become a largely forgotten footnote.
The idea was solid – provide an option for those who prefer a walkable lifestyle, an opportunity to live and play in the same place (about the only think lacking in the immediate area is a supermarket). The problem was the timing … construction took place during the bubble and, as the bubble burst, the attraction of three-story townhouses fell off the map. Pricing was ludicrously high – into the $300s – because, well, everything was priced ludicrously high at the time.
Individual owners walked away; large blocks of townhouses were sold via foreclosure auction as the developer ran out of both steam and cash.
And yet … The Quarter is still here and units are available for a fraction of what they once were. Less than a mile from Loop 101, which provides access to everything in the Valley. With the Arizona Cardinals and the Phoenix Coyotes (and yes, Margaritaville) next door. Minutes from dozens of restaurants, shops and more. Ideal as either a turnkey, lock-it-and-leave-it winter home or vacation rental.
In many ways, its appropriate that the Quarter and the Coyotes share the same home … both have seen some rough times, but they’ve survived and are still here.
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