Phoenix Coyotes Update: Goldwater Institute Not Ready to Sue Just Yet

Yesterday, a spokesman at the Goldwater Institute told us that the think tank was readying a lawsuit over the city of Glendale's deal with the NHL, which could give the hockey league up to $25 million to subsidize losses during its stint as owner of the Phoenix Coyotes.

But today, the same spokesman backed up a bit. After a bit more legal research, he says, Goldwater decided to slow down on the threatened litigation.

The key, legally speaking, appears to be that the deal hasn't been finalized yet. On Tuesday, the city council merely authorized City Manager Ed Beasley to spend up to $25 million on some sort of agreement with the National Hockey League. We're all still waiting for the particulars. Beyond that, not a dime has actually been spent, leaving Goldwater's legal beagles worried about the issue of ripeness.

"Up until this morning, we have every intention of filing immediately to challenge the decision of the city council on Tuesday," Spokesman Le Templar explains. "But because of the particulars of this situation and what we know about the case law, by filing now, there may be a risk of a judge finding that we filed at the wrong time -- and preventing us from filing again once the deal is finalized."


Better, Goldwater decided, to wait and see some particulars -- and, perhaps, wait for Glendale to attempt to throw some money to the NHL.

And who knows. Just by threatening a lawsuit, the think tank may force Glendale to negotiate a better deal.

"They may end up with a deal that doesn't offer an illegal subsidy," Templar says. "There's no reason to file at that point. We're not going into this just to sue -- there's a principle we're upholding."

Skeptics that we are, it's difficult to imagine that Glendale could give away millions of dollars to the National Hockey League and it wouldn't amount to an illegal subsidy under the Arizona Supreme Court's newly clarified Gift Clause.

But then again, we're not hockey fans. Surely, if you're into the sport, $25 million is a small price to pay to keep the Coyotes stranded in the desert for another year -- and not a "grossly disproportionate" giveaway. Right? 

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Sarah Fenske
Contact: Sarah Fenske