February 2, 2013
Glendale resident Thurston patted himself on the back at a recent Glendale City Council meeting about his fifteen minutes of fame he earned with his mocking “Quacks Like A Duck” act at an earlier meeting. It seems somehow appropriate to resurrect his expression one LAST (hopefully) time for today’s discussion about something that’s quacking like a bloated government duck. There is a plan being wafted on the airwaves and cybertweetyface about how new Glendale mayor Jerry Weiers wants to deal with Jobing.com arena now that Mr. Jamison has missed the city deadline. Before we look at that, let’s review the current state of affairs as best I can surmise.
Once the Hockey Partners deadline was missed, new suitors for the Coyotes appeared in rumors and announcements. The mayor mentioned two groups inquiring about the team. As of now, I think that there are three players looking to purchase the Coyotes and keep them in Arizona (if not necessarily Glendale):
- Greg Jamison – Don’t count out Mr. Jamison yet. Jamison has already stated that he will continue to work to make a deal happen. Anyone looking at the wild ride he has already been through with the Coyotes can’t doubt his ability and will to persevere.
- Anthony LeBlanc – Formerly and maybe currently of Ice Edge Holdings. LeBlanc had been part of Hockey Partners, in fact he sat next to Mr. Jamison at the Glendale City Council meeting when the arena deal was approved. Ice Edge has been in and out of contention for the Coyotes from the beginning.
- Bill Gallacher – Identified by Craig Morgan as a likely candidate. Gallacher has been in the rumor pipeline for other NHL teams for some time and currently owns the Portland Winterhawks WHL team. He’s a Calgary guy that cut his teeth in the oil business.
I could be wrong, but I believe that Mr. Gallacher may have also been involved in the Hockey Partners group at one point. It’s all conjecture, of course, I really do NOT know and don’t remember why I am convinced it’s true. Crazy, huh? Assuming both men WERE involved with Hockey Partners, it’s good and bad.
The good part is that they MAY be somewhat familiar with the current state of politics in Glendale. I’m wondering if the bad part is that both people may somehow be still contractually excluded from competition with Hockey Partners in any business matter. If they were, doesn’t the specter of a NDA (non-disclosure agreement) or some other lawsuit initiate by Hockey Partners loom on the horizon? If so, would the NHL be willing to wait around until such lawsuits were settled? Unlikely.
One thing is certain, if a group OTHER than Hockey Partners ends up with the team in Glendale, they will reap the benefits of a lot of work done on Hockey Partners watch. I mean referendums, initiatives, lockouts, and other things. Seems unfair, but nobody expects life or business to be fair.
New Boss Just Like The Old Boss
Enter Jerry Weiers. Mr, Weiers was elected with the full support of former mayor Scruggs.
From a recent AZ Republic piece by Paul Giblin, the aforementioned Anthony LeBlanc:
“Look, the reality is that any potential owner, myself included, will require a deal with the city that is very, very similar to the one that was on the table over the last several months,” he told The Arizona Republic.
LeBlanc declined to say whether he considered himself a potential owner now and he declined further
comment. He previously headed Ice Edge Holdings, which tried but didn’t succeed in purchasing the team in 2010.
Jerry Weiers said on camera (click here for video) ”we’ll entertain anything that anybody brings” in reference to possible new negotiations with prospective buyers. Hearing that statement, people with the necessarily deep pockets might assume they could propose a deal very similar to the Hockey Partners arrangement.
However it seems he may actually, instead, be insisting on a specific set of parameters for an arena deal to be made. The parameters are, in fact, ludicrous.
Government Waste Structure
Mr. Weiers is apparently insisting that any new arena management contract must be divided into 4 parts with each part going to a separate arena management firm. The four parts are music, hockey, education and cleaning.
On the face of it, the idea appears to offer four different contracts to be doled out to four firms. The cynical among us would blush at the appearance of political paybacks being in the offing. Undeniably, the possibility of a corrupt deal is multiplied by four as is the complexity of reviewing bids and vetting the proposers. Why on earth would four separate entities to run a city owned property EVER be better than one?
There are too many holes in the scheme to list here, I have a hockey game to go to shortly. Obvious problems such as overlapping responsibilities are easily identified. Does the music guy deal with the conversion of the arena from hockey and back or does the hockey guy? Who is responsible for guest services, do all three (other than cleaning) need to have their own guest services department?
The suggested structure would also, of course, require ONE entity not mentioned to oversee the other four. The more you analyze the idea, the more it looks like layers of wasteful government on top of other layers. If ONE layer will do, then five is better because more people can line their wallets. The idea is harebrained, and I don’t say that lightly.
So What Now?
For starters, I believe the City Council has to provide direction for ANY negotiations or potential contract demands to be made. I’m fairly certain that the mayor has gone off the page with this scheme, but I could be wrong. The point could be moot, anyway, if Weiers (as suspected) controls the votes of three council members. If that’s the case, he will get the direction for anything he wishes.
It’s extremely unlikely that any reputable firm would bid on arena management with the restrictions that Weiers wants to impose. That leaves disreputable and amateur firms as the candidates, there are a few of them around I could name off the top of my head. Or, Mr. Weiers can abandon his plan.
Council member Gary Sherwood has, on multiple occasions, suggested the immediate hiring of a professional negotiator to deal with the arena. That idea has so much merit that I can’t believe it hasn’t already been executed. Find somebody familiar with the arena business (I can even nominate an EXCELLENT candidate with decades of experience) and have him or her get the job done in weeks.
Or, Mr. Weiers can continue to fiddle while Rome burns and he will end up with egg on his face, no hockey team, an arena for ten or twenty events a year and an empty Westgate.
Hopefully this final opportunity isn’t blown.
Keep the faith, Coyotes brothers and sisters, we’re not dead yet.