Glendale will not be getting help from the rest of the state to cover the cost of public safety at next year's Super Bowl.
On a 16-10 vote the Senate rejected legislation to reimburse the city for half of its costs, up to $2 million. Opposition came from both sides of the political aisle.
Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, said the issue is strictly one of who should be responsible for paying for public safety for the 2015 event.
“My constituents in Tucson will not see the benefits from this bill,” he said.
“People may come to these big events in the Maricopa County area,” Farley said. “Chances are they're not going to spend their money in Southern Arizona, they're not going to spend their money in Northern Arizona.”
He said if there's a financial benefit, whether to Glendale or the immediate area, that is where the cost should be borne.
Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers called the move “short-sighted.” Weiers said his city will do what it can, with its own funds, to provide the necessary police protection for the tens of thousands of visitors who will be attending the game. But he said that his council will refuse to host any more Super Bowls – or similar major events – unless either the host committee comes up with the necessary cash up front so as not to bankrupt his city.
“They're going to have to raise more money to help cover the public safety or the NFL's going to have to pick up the cost or the state of Arizona's going to have to come up front,” Weiers said. “If nobody does that, all that tourism dollars is going to go to a different state” and Arizona will get no future Super Bowls – and no economic boost from the event.
But Senate President Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, said it might have been different had Glendale not mismanaged its finances.
He said the city agreed within the last year to pay $15 million a year for the next 15 years to a company that bought the Coyotes hockey team to manage the arena. That deal will keep the team in the city.
And Biggs said even if the team turns in multiple winning seasons the city will still lose $9 million a year on the arena.
“They have laid off public sector workers,” he said.
“The city over there is mismanaged,” Biggs continued. “Yet they're able to give $15 million to a hockey franchise to keep it in town when they know they're going to lose money on it.”
Biggs said there is no reason why Glendale needs special help for the Super Bowl.
“It just seems to me that this is an awesome display of fiscal mismanagement,” he said.
Weiers said he does not necessarily disagree, pointing out that he opposed the deal with the Coyotes but was outvoted. At this point, the mayor said he has to work with what the council has mandated.
Tuesday's defeat came despite the fact that the proposal has been greatly diluted from its original form.
That would have made up to $5 million in state tax funds available to all cities for things like police overtime for nationally televised special events. By the time HB 2547 got out of the House, though, the cap had been dropped to just $2 million for a one-time event.
The version voted down on Tuesday pared the measure even further, allowing the city could get the state to cover only half of its expenses, with that $2 million cap remaining in place.