Teams want new arenas, but taxpayers still owe on existing venue - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Teams want new arenas, but taxpayers still owe on existing venues

Three of the major professional franchises in the Valley want or demand new venues even though their current homes aren't paid off. (Source: CBS 5 News) Three of the major professional franchises in the Valley want or demand new venues even though their current homes aren't paid off. (Source: CBS 5 News)

The Arizona Coyotes have made it clear for years that they want out of Glendale. The team looked into moving to Las Vegas but now appears to be eying downtown Phoenix.

[READ MORE: Arizona Coyotes have site for new arena picked out]

If the move happens, the Coyotes would be leaving behind a state-of-the-art venue, now called Gila River Arena. And they would be leaving Glendale taxpayers with a bill for $145 million, which is the amount the city still owes on the arena.

"The first thing that occurs to me is that this is example 837 on why it's a bad idea to have taxpayer funded stadiums to begin with," said Michael Hunter, who is the vice president for state and fiscal affairs at the Goldwater Institute.

The Coyotes aren't the only professional sports team here in the Valley that's making noise about wanting new digs. Earlier this year, the owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks shocked fans by threatening to leave Phoenix if Maricopa County, which owns Chase Field, did not agree to pay for an estimated $187 million in upgrades and maintenance.

[READ MORE: Diamondbacks want upgrades to ballpark or threaten to sue]

County leaders are now considering selling the facility for a mere $60 million to avoid having to take on the cost of the upgrades. The ballpark cost $354 million to build back in 1998. The entire price tag was paid up front, thanks to a temporary sales tax increase in the early 1990s.

[READ MORE: Maricopa County moves to sell Diamondbacks' ballpark]

Even the franchise with the longest history in the Valley, the Phoenix Suns, is getting antsy.

"The team has told me in the near future they will begin to look for a new home," said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, during his State of the City speech back in June. Stanton proposed building a new arena that could house the Suns, Coyotes and the Phoenix Mercury.

[READ MORE: Phoenix Mayor wants 3 pro sports teams under one roof in downtown]

The Suns' and Mercury's current home is Talking Stick Resort Arena, which was built in 1992 at a cost of $90 million. In 2001, the arena underwent a $67 million facelift. The City of Phoenix still owes $25 million on the arena.

"There is a national pressure to come up with these kinds of deals because these teams often do have options," said Hunter.

It remains to be seen whether the threats to leave are just posturing on the part of the teams, but there are other cities across the country willing to spend public money on state of the art arenas and stadiums.

According to a review of publicly available venue data, 18 teams from the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB are playing in venues that were completely privately funded. The most recent privately funded stadium built is AT&T Park in San Francisco, where the Giants of the MLB play. Every stadium and arena built since then have had some or all of the price tag paid with public dollars.

Copyright 2016 KPHO (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

Morgan  LoewMorgan Loew is an investigative reporter at CBS 5 News. His career has taken him to every corner of the state, lots of corners in the United States, and some far-flung corners of the globe.

Click to learn more about Morgan .

Morgan Loew
CBS 5 Investigates

Morgan’s past assignments include covering the invasion of Iraq, human smuggling in Mexico, vigilantes on the border and Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Maricopa County. His reports have appeared or been featured on CBS News, CNN, NBC News, MSNBC and NPR.

Morgan’s peers have recognized his work with 11 Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards, two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for investigative reporting, an SPJ First Amendment Award, and a commendation from the Humane Society of the United States. In October 2016, Morgan was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle in recognition of 25 years of contribution to the television industry in Arizona.

Morgan is graduate of the University of Arizona journalism school and Concord Law School at Purdue University Global. He is the president of the Arizona First Amendment Coalition and teaches media law and TV news reporting at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

When he’s not out looking for the next big news story, Morgan enjoys hiking, camping, cheering for the Arizona Wildcats and spending time with his family at their southern Arizona ranch.

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