Two years ago, a nervous Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority board stiffed a superior bid from Mesa and awarded the Arizona Cardinals pro football stadium to Glendale.
But perhaps Glendale’s recent refusal to cough up $32 million for infrastructure and a plaza for the stadium, as the city had promised, indicates Glendale’s inability to handle its obligations for both a hockey arena and a football stadium. That refusal should also insult all other bidders — including Mesa in the East Valley — whose proposals were rejected when the stadium was awarded to Glendale.
Gov. Janet Napolitano should take quick notice of the situation and start calling AZSTA board members on the carpet for bailing out Glendale.
Perhaps authority board members might think no one in the East Valley would notice. They’d be wrong. All bidders for the $370.6 million stadium agreed to pay these costs as a vital component of their “buy-in” to the stadium, which is why, two years after losing the facility, East Valley leaders are angrily demanding that authority heads roll.
Had other cities thought there would be any hope that the authority would pay for these infrastructure costs, they — certainly Mesa — could have offered a more enticing package. As it was, nervousness among authority board members over a Mesa referendum on the stadium site led them to choose Glendale before that vote was even held.
Authority officials told the Tribune’s Paul Giblin that they had to come up with the $32 million, as Glendale officials’ refusal to even set a date for a meeting about paying was delaying the construction schedule for the 63,000-seat stadium. The AZSTA should have sued Glendale instead of caving in and footing the city’s costs.
This raises an important issue: Perhaps Glendale had the financial capacity to back a hockey arena or a football stadium, but not both. Being on the hook for $180 million for the NHL Phoenix Coyotes arena, perhaps Glendale didn’t have enough bonding authority left to meet its football stadium obligations.
In that case the city should have stuck only with Glendale Arena, the rights to which it received in 2001, and should not have bid on the Cardinals stadium in 2002.
In any event, Glendale’s behavior is as inexplicable as it is unconscionable. An obligation as large and important as this one demands that its City Council