Marathon meeting nets Coyotes deal for Glendale

The Glendale City Council voted to approve a lease agreement with the prospective new owner of the Phoenix Coyotes Tuesday night after nearly five hours of debate and discussion.

Under the terms of the deal, Glendale will pay the ownership group led by Matthew Huslizer $97 million in arena management fees over the next 5 1/2 years and will also pay $100 million for the team’s parking rights, which the city will use as a revenue source to help pay the management fees. The agreement will keep the Coyotes at the Arena for at least the next 30 years.

“It’s been a really long night,” Scruggs said.

While she was referring to Tuesday night’s four-hour marathon meeting, that sentiment could just as easily be applied to the past two years. Nearly two years ago, Coyotes ownership filed for bankruptcy, leaving an uncertain future for the centerpiece of the city’s Westgate development. Councilwoman Joyce Clark expressed the same sentiment.

“It’s been a long night and a long two years,” she said. “It’s been a long two weeks working on this deal. I spent that two weeks not knowing how I was going to vote. I tried to keep an open mind throughout the process.”

In the end, even those on the council who supported the lease agreement were sober in their analysis of the deal.

“I believe most parties involved feel they did not get everything they wanted,” said Councilman Manny Martinez. “But I believe (city staff members) have come up with the best possible agreement for the city.”

Councilwoman Yvonne Knaack concurred.

“The agreement is not perfect but it is the best agreement we can come to at this point,” she said. “The alternative would be devastating.”

While members of the council tempered their enthusiasm, members of the audience did not. Council chambers were filled to capacity for Tuesday’s meeting, with the majority of those in attendance sporting Coyotes sweaters. After Hulsizer addressed the council, the audience gave him a lengthy and loud standing ovation.

“We’re making a significant financial commitment to this city and this state,” he said. “People have asked me, ‘Why are you doing this?’ I believe in this city. I believe in this state. I believe in this team. We’re prepared to be here for a very, very, very long time.”

Gary Bettman, commissioner of the National Hockey League, was also in attendance. Bettman thanked the council and staff for their hard work and restated his league’s commitment to the city.

“It’s been a long and winding road,” he said. “From a league perspective where we are is in Glendale with the Coyotes and that is where we want to be. Mr. Hulsizer believes this will work. We believe this will work. We hope the Coyotes have a long future here.”

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