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Fate of Arena lease to be determined next week Arena

The lame-duck Glendale City Council is set to debate the final terms of a Arena management deal with Greg Jamison, pledging $320 million over 20 years to the prospective owner of the Phoenix Coyotes.

Pretty sweet deal: the City Council is set to pay Jamison more than the worth of the team or the worth of the arena, built for $180 million in 2003. It’s such a sweet deal that four new members opposing the arena deal were elected earlier this month to the City Council. For example, incumbent Joyce Clark — a proponent of the arena deal — was voted out of office by a 2-to-1 margin. Similarly, mayor-elect Jerry Weiers ran on a platform of limiting subsidies to sports facilities. Glendale’s finances have been battered by debt service on the arena and Camelback Ranch-Glendale, the spring-training home of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox.

The current City Council has sought to change the terms of the management deal, and the two sides still must agree on some other terms, such as penalties for not staging enough non-sports events, such as concerts. But really, this is chump change in light of the hundreds of millions pledged to Jamison to run an arena. And some, including the interim city manager who negotiated the deal, admits it’s a bad one for taxpayers and needs to be revised.

One option that’s emerging: before signing an agreement with Jamison, some argue the city should release the management deal to bid. No one seems to be quite sure exactly why the city should be paying so much for an arena-management deal, and one way to establish a market price for an arena-management deal is,well, to release the deal to the market. We’re guessing the major arena-management firms out there — Global Spectrum, SMG — could come up with a bid that’s considerably lower than the $16 million pledged to Jamison. And it’s still not certain whether the Jamison deal will pass legal muster: the city is using a hike in sales taxes to pay part of the management deal, and Arizona has some quirks in the legal system that prevents individuals benefiting from such a contract. So the City Council vote on Nov. 27 may not be the final step in the process.

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