Pardon, Sir, Your Bias Is Showing

The vote to approve the arena management deal between Glendale and IceArizona occurred on July 2, 2013. Glendale Councilmember Gary Sherwood recorded an appearance for broadcast on PBS Arizona Horizon the next day and and Arizona Republic reporter Paul Giblin appeared in studio. Click here for the video.

It was an interesting show.

Glendale CM Gary Sherwood

Glendale CM Gary Sherwood

Sherwood’s Segment

CM Sherwood’s segment begins at 00:24 and ends at 01:29. The Glendale councilmember that is inarguably most familiar with the deal had a little over a minute on the air to discuss the intricacies of the ordinance and resolution passed the evening before.

Gary is good, but he’s not THAT good. He had time to assert the value of the Coyotes as an anchor tenant within Westgate and lay out the upcoming deadlines toward final consummation of the deal.

His segment was so short that PBS didn’t even bother listing him on the web site as existing on the show.

Giblin’s Segment

Paul Giblin’s segment begins at 01:34 and ends at 08:47. A reporter that is significantly less familiar with Glendale, the City Council and certainly the arena management agreement had over eight minutes to discuss the same topic covered by Mr. Sherwood.

That would be great if he had the facts straight, maybe, but he didn’t.

Ted Simons, the Horizon host, has never been a fan of Glendale’s entry into the sports market. Giblin is simpatico in that regard.

In my experience, when a reporter interviews another reporter instead of one of the principals actually involved in the topic, one is in for a slanted piece. This segment continues to prove the point.

Squishy Depends

After Giblin briefly describes the exchange of money between Glendale and IceArizona, Simons asks a question (at 2:23) using a financial term that is new to me:

“We’re talking firm dollars or just depends dollars?”

Giblin made the assumption Simons wasn’t talking about the economic value of adult incontinence products and answered.

“One of each. The city’s money is firm dollars. That was key to the deal because the team’s lenders want firm money, so that’s why they wanted that firm money from the city. The depends dollars, as you describe them, depends on attendance because there’s ticket surcharges, depends on whether they’re going to pay for their parking, it depends on how much they’re going to get for the naming rights.

The depends money goes back to the city. That’s the squishy money that the lenders didn’t want to depend on to give the massive loan to the owners of the team.”

Yes, I will be leaving all the “squishy depends” money jokes unspoken, please feel free to supply your own.

Firm or squishy, the implication from both gentlemen in the exchange, please watch as well as read so the nuance of facial expression is available, is that the city got the worse end of the deal.

Out Clause Error

After dismissing the impact of the addition of Global Spectrum to the mix, Mr. Giblin summarizes the “out clause” (around 4:41):

“They’re (IceArizona) giving themselves five years or fifty million dollars. When they hit one of those and they don’t like it, they can pull the plug on the deal.”

Um, nope, it’s actually spelled out quite clearly in the documents and the discussion of that portion of the agreement at the City Council meeting the evening before also seemed clear.

The “out clause” is only available to IceArizona if they have lost $50M at the end of five years. If they have, and they wish to exercise their right to terminate the agreement, they have 180 days to do so.

Fun With Numbers

Mr. Giblin continues, dismissive of the throng of Coyotes fans that attended the meeting and got up to speak. We’re used to that from all points of the compass.

“You had a lot of people wearing their Coyotes jerseys talking about how great hockey is and all of a sudden they’re big consumer advocates and they’re concerned about all of the restaurants and bars in Westgate. They’re talking about how the Coyotes were key to that, which is probably true.”

Arizona Republic's Paul Giblin

Arizona Republic’s Paul Giblin

It’s true that Coyotes fans outnumbered “regular” citizens of Glendale at the meeting by a wide margin. An overflow room had to be added to accommodate them all, in fact. Support is, somehow, something to be mocked by professional  reporters in the eyes of the Arizona Republic.

The total Glendale budget is $576M, the total committed to be paid to IceArizona is $15M. Even the most hardened cynic would understand that at least SOME revenue would be shared with the city, reducing the outlay of the city from $15M. But, let’s assume ZERO dollars of the proposed shared revenue exists. We do need to back out the $6M arena management fee the city agrees it would have to pay any real manager, leaving us with a net outlay WITH the Coyotes AND no returned revenue (impossible with the sale of even one ticket) of $9M.

Nah, let’s leave “the Coyotes number” at $15M for our math exercise, even though we know it won’t be CLOSE to that much, to give Mr. Giblin a giant head start at justifying his snarky comments. $15M is 2.6% of the total Glendale budget.

“You had a lot of people wearing their Coyotes jerseys talking about how great hockey is and all of a sudden they’re big consumer advocates and their concerned about all of the restaurants and bars in Westgate. They’re talking about how the Coyotes were key to that, which is probably true.”

Mr. Giblin dismisses the importance of the Coyotes to the Westgate area with the following comment:

“But, all of Westgate is about two and a half percent (revenue) of the city’s total budget. So, if you look at it that way, it’s not such a big deal.”

Okay, let’s get this straight. 2.5% of the budget is not such a big deal, according to Mr. Giblin. Yet, also according to Mr. Giblin, 2.6% is sliding a giant pile of city money across the table to IceArizona.

I’m not great at math, but the numbers are so close to equal (remember we are using the $15M WAY too large number) that it looks like, even with the payment to IceArizona, the arena deal is a wash with the revenue generated for the city at Westgate.

Compelling argument, Paul.

If we used more realistic revenue numbers that even a cynic would agree are realistic, this current deal becomes significantly more compelling as a solution to Glendale’s arena problems for the foreseeable future. You won’t ever see that admission from Mr. Giblin or his ilk, however.

There’s More, But…

There’s no point analyzing the show any more, although there is at least another 1,000 words of bombastic snarkiness there.

Just one more thing, Mr. Giblin made a point of derisively mentioning Coyotes fans raising their hands with a thumbs up when “they heard something they liked” and went on to say he’d never seen it before.

Maybe he’s never seen it before because he is nowhere near as familiar with the procedure at Glendale City Council meetings than the giant crowd of Coyotes fans that knew EXACTLY how to behave according to Glendale City Council tradition.

There’s a referendum attempt afoot and misinformation is still damaging. We know, from experience, that misinformation spread by local media must be addressed with Glendale citizens misled by it.

That’s okay, there’s only 24 days left where this sort of thing has to be even considered. After that, there won’t be much need to delete the AZ Central cookies to be able to read that content.