By Ben Giles | Arizona Capitol Times
The City of Glendale, home of the Arizona Coyotes, is not what ails the team, according to former mayor Elaine Scruggs.
It’s the team’s leadership that’s to blame for the dire state of the franchise, Scruggs wrote in a letter to Arizona’s legislative leaders.
Scruggs’ missive to House Speaker J.D. Mesnard and Senate President Steve Yarbrough comes on the heels of a letter sent to the two lawmakers by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and a statement from the team’s’ majority owner, Andrew Barroway, declaring that the franchise will not remain in Glendale. Scurggs, who served as mayor from 1993 to 2013, wrote that she was emotional when reading Bettman’s “haughty comments,” given the commissioner’s repeated statements in the past declaring the NHL’s commitment to Glendale.
“Bettman has a new bill of goods to sell. Forget everything he said previously,” Scruggs wrote.
“In their minds the Coyotes’ lack of success is Glendale’s fault,” she continued. “Disregard the fact that the team ranks last in the NHL in hockey spending, continually trades away top talent while it annually ‘builds for the future,’ and spends next to nothing on marketing the team. I will say what they will not: The coyotes position at the bottom of the standings is a leadership problem, not a location problem.”
Scruggs urged lawmakers to reject the team’s offer of “twisted logic” as the Coyotes lobby for the passage of SB1149. Team officials had told a Senate panel that the measure could provide the Coyotes with as much as $225 million in public financing to build a new arena, preferably in downtown Phoenix or the East Valley, where they insist their fans are predominantly located.
Never mind, Scruggs said, that when the Coyotes moved from downtown Phoenix to Glendale, they ranked 29th in attendance out of 30 NHL teams.
“(SB1149) is the only solution, they say; this is what will make hockey thrive,” Scruggs wrote. “The truth is the Coyotes have a world-class, taxpayer funded arena that is designed for hockey and is only 12 years old.”
Scruggs said the city is still willing to work towards a long-term lease for the Coyotes to remain in Glendale. The team is on a year-to-year lease after the city terminated the previous lease in 2015.
SB1149 awaits a vote by the full Senate, which isn’t likely, given that Yarbrough said most senators are against the measure.