Phoenix taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for the Suns’ arena

By Boaz Witbeck 

The Phoenix City Council is considering whether to spend $150 million in taxpayer money on a plan to renovate the Phoenix Suns’ Talking Stick Resort arena.

At a recent public meeting, supporters of the plan argued that it’s worth $150 million to keep the team downtown.

Wanting to keep our beloved Suns in Phoenix is understandable, especially with the owner at one point threatening to move the team out of the city. But a taxpayer handout isn’t the way to do it. We would all do well to listen to Phoenix resident Greta Rogers, who told the City Council last December, “We [Phoenix residents] are not in the business of paying taxes to support private enterprise.”

Ms. Rogers is right. Government should not be picking and choosing winners in the private sector. In her words, “They can support themselves or fail on their own lack of diligence.” In that spirit, we urge the City Council to reject the plan when they vote Jan. 23.

Since 2006, politicians across North America have spent $11 billion in taxpayer funds on 54 ballparks, arenas, and stadiums.

Taxpayers forked over $430 million for the Orlando Magic’s Amway Center. They paid $305 million for the Brooklyn Nets’ Barclays Center. And they’re on the hook for $250 million for the Milwaukee Bucks’ new arena. The list goes on.

Most of this spending – $9.3 billion worth – occurred without any taxpayer approval.  The people footing the bill had the opportunity to vote on funding for just 15 facilities. Only eight won voter approval.

Politicians like to claim that using taxpayer funds to build or renovate arenas will stimulate the local economy. The facts, however, say otherwise. 

One study unambiguously concluded, “there is no statistically significant positive correlation between sports facility construction and economic development.”

On the contrary, economics professors from the College of Holy Cross note that teams and stadiums propped up by taxpayer funding can actually choke off local economic activity. People spending money to go to games might have less money to spend at the local theater or might be deterred to go to eat out because of all the traffic from a sporting event.

Funding for stadiums can also crowd out expenditures for important public services and bust municipal budgets. Sometimes that money is wasted on arenas that sit empty. Houston’s Astrodome, which was built with $31 million in public funds and left the county millions of dollars in debt after being condemned for code violations. Despite all of this, last year Harris County approved another $105 million in taxpayer funds for renovations. The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis sits empty, leaving the taxpayers of Missouri paying $144 million in debt and upkeep costs until 2021 – in part because Los Angeles is subsidizing a new stadium for the NFL’s Rams, the team that left St. Louis.

In an ideal world, owners wouldn’t threaten to leave cities unless they get a taxpayer handout and politicians wouldn’t cave to their demands. Local officials need to always remember they’re supposed to look out for our interests.

Spending our hard-earned money on bad investments is not in our interest.

We Americans love our sports teams. But we shouldn’t allow politicians to use those attachments to benefit the well-connected at our expense.    

Boaz Witbeck is deputy state director of Americans for Prosperity-Arizona

Poll: Maricopa Voters Satisfied with Diamondbacks Stadium

MBQF

Diamondbacks face a hard sell to Maricopa County Voters for Stadium Funds

(Phoenix, AZ) — MBQF, a public opinion survey consulting firm, announced today the results of a recent public opinion survey conducted on March 24, 2016. Results from the automated survey show likely Maricopa County voters who responded “Yes” to having attended an Arizona Diamondbacks game within the last 2 years. MoE of ± 5.59 and 407 total respondents.

The Question was read as follows:

In your opinion, when you were there, what would you judge the condition of the stadium?

Very Good – 61.2%
Good – 31.9%
Poor – 2%
Very Poor – 1%
No Opinion – 3.9%

The Arizona Diamondbacks are requesting 200 million dollar upgrade for deferred maintenance and upgrades to the stadium. As a Maricopa County taxpayer, would you support spending tax dollars for this?

Yes – 18.9%
No – 62.7%
Not Sure/Undecided – 18.4%

MBQF Principal Mike Noble concluded, “The Arizona Diamondbacks desire for taxpayers to step up to the plate with nearly $200 million is a big swing and a miss,” Noble said. “Fans believe Chase Field is still a first-class facility and prefer to sing Take Me Out to the Ballgame at the corner of Jefferson and 4th Street.”

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POLL: Maricopa County Voters Say Raise Age to 21 to Buy Tobacco, Keep Coyotes in Glendale

MBQF
MarsonMedia

Poll also shows voters want Arizona Coyotes to stay in Glendale

(Phoenix, AZ) — Only adults 21 and over should be able to buy tobacco products, according to a new poll of Maricopa County voters.

Of the 584 respondents to a poll conducted Dec. 29 by MBQF Consulting and Marson Media, 72 percent said they support increasing the age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21. Just 28 percent oppose the move.

The poll also found Maricopa County voters prefer the Arizona Coyotes remain in Glendale, 55-45. And finally, Maricopa County approve of Indian tribes opening Las Vegas-style casinos off traditional reservation land by a margin of 45-39.

“It is clear among all political stripes that voters want to increase the legal age to buy tobacco to 21,” said Barrett Marson, CEO of Marson Media. “As cities in Maricopa County consider these proposals, they can move forward knowing voters support the move.”

Mike Noble Added, “What was interesting was that support to increase the legal age was basically the same between Republicans, Democrats and Independent voters.”

Despite spotty attendance performance throughout its years in Glendale, voters don’t support moving the Arizona Coyotes to a downtown Phoenix or East Valley location, the poll found. The team has said it will explore a move to a new arena downtown or could build an arena on the Salt River Pima Indian Community near Scottsdale.

“The Coyotes are locked in a battle with Glendale but voters actually prefer the team stays in the Gila River Arena,” said Mike Noble, CEO of MBQF Consulting.

As for Indian gaming, county voters appear OK with tribes opening casinos off of traditional reservation land. The Tohono O’odham recently opened a casino near Glendale though it lacks table games like blackjack that are at other casinos.

“Voters don’t mind Indian casinos in the metropolitan area even if they are operated by tribes far away,” Marson said.

In the automated telephonic non-partisan survey of 584 high efficacy voters, conducted on December 29, the survey calculates a 4.06% theoretical margin of error, plus or minus in percentage points.

For more information about this survey, or a summary of topline data and wording, please contact Mike Noble or Barrett Marson.

Maricopa GOP Chair Rallies LD Censures

To all Arizona County and LD Republican Committee Chairmen –
Below is the front page article of the July 15 Arizona Capitol Times. I want to express my appreciation to those courageous and principled County and LD Republican Committees who have already conducted votes of “censure” and/or “no confidence.”
Jan Brewer, the legislators and their crony capitalist friends that support ObamaCare and Medicaid expansion have betrayed Americans, Arizona Republicans and the Republican Party Platform.  Their lack of ethics, integrity and egregious acts are motivated by only two things – greed and the lust for power – at the expense of hard working tax paying Americans.
The law was expected to cost $898 billion over the first decade when the bill was first passed, but this year the Congressional Budget Office revised that estimate to $1.85 trillion.  Money that will have to be borrowed from the Chinese or printed in the backroom of the Federal Reserve.  Latest polls indicate a majority of Americans are opposed to ObamaCare and Medicaid expansion with an overwhelming majority of Republicans in opposition.
During the past six months, we did everything we could to make a solid argument against ObamaCare and Medicaid expansion, we tried to reason with these people and even tried to make them see the light.  Unfortunately, our lobbying efforts fell on deaf ears and without success.
During one of Ronald Reagan’s difficult political battles he said,
               “When you can’t make them see the light, make them feel the heat.”
I’m asking all the County and LD Republican Committees to make these people feel the heat by passing public censures for their actions.  They are elitists who think what they have done should be forgiven. They are mistaken.  We are not going to be able to defeat all of them, but we can defeat a majority of them in the 2014 Primary Election.
You can go to “MCRC Briefs” and get examples of public censures that have already been passed.  http://briefs.maricopagop.org/  Just type “censure” in the search field on the left.
Warmest regards,
 A. J. LaFaro
Chairman, Maricopa County Republican Committee
P.S.  Please encourage all of your PCs to keep up their daily efforts in getting petition signatures for www.urapc.org  Getting ObamaCare and Medicaid expansion on the November 2014 ballot will be historic for Arizona’s grassroots conservatives.

Leah Campos Schandlbauer announces endorsement from former ASU Quarterback Andrew Walter

PHOENIX (July 24, 2012) – Leah Campos Schandlbauer today announced that former Arizona State University Quarterback Andrew Walter has endorsed her campaign for Arizona’s 9th District. Walter also played in the NFL for the Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots.

He released the following statement:

“I am endorsing Leah because she’s a proven leader who has served our country with honor and distinction in the CIA. She has shown the capacity to remain calm and think clearly in high-pressure situations. Plus, her roots are grounded in the same community she seeks to represent,” Walter said. “It’s clear Leah possesses an unparalleled understanding of both the foreign policy and economic challenges facing our country today – as well as their solutions.

“Most importantly, Leah embodies the phrase ‘public servant,’ a quality so desperately needed in Congress, where far too many of our elected officials otherwise embrace the phrase ‘self-servant.’”

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About The Campaign
In Congress, Leah will defend our free enterprise system and work to balance the budget. She has been endorsed by Citizens United Conservative Victory Fund, U.S. Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC), and U.S. Representative Sean Duffy (R-WI). Congressional District 9 is a new seat that includes all of Tempe and Awhatukee along with parts of Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale and Chandler.

About Leah
Leah served for more than a decade around the world as an operations officer for the CIA’s National Clandestine Service. Leah is a graduate of Arizona State University and attended Rhodes Junior High School in Mesa and Chandler Seton Catholic High School. Leah and her husband, Alfred, a Foreign Service officer with the U.S. Department of State, have four children. A lifelong conservative and strong believer in the principles of economic liberty and limited government, Leah will be a voice and vote for freedom in Congress. For more information, visit: www.leahforcongress.com.

Walt Opaska Calls on Mayor Scruggs, Council to Prepare for Life Without The Coyotes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 24, 2012

GLENDALE, ARIZ (January 24, 2012) – City of Glendale mayoral candidate Walt Opaska calls on Mayor Scruggs and the City Council to plan for the possibility that if the Coyotes leave Glendale. Major Scruggs and City Council must start a process to find a company to manage Jobing.com arena if the Coyotes leave Glendale.

“While Glendale should try to keep the Coyotes in Glendale in a way that does not bankrupt the City, Glendale needs to plan for all eventualities. Mayor Scruggs and the City Council are neglecting their duties to the citizens of Glendale by not planning for possibility that the Coyotes leave Glendale,” stated Walt Opaska.

In September, the City Manager told Mayor Scruggs and the City Council that it would take at least three or four months to find an arena management company. “It is inconceivable that we are less than three months from the end of the hockey season and Glendale has no plans for arena management in mid-April if the Coyotes leave. Immediately, Glendale needs to begin a public process to find potential arena managers if the Coyotes leave Glendale,” says Walt Opaska. “If the City does not have a back-up arena management company in place, and a deal is not reached by the end of the Coyotes season, Jobing.com arena will sit empty. What a waste! Glendale needs needs new leadership that will plan for the future.”

To learn more about Walt Opaska, please visit www.opaskaformayor.com. Walt Opaska is the only mayoral candidate consistently opposed to taxpayer subsidies for the Coyotes.

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Rep. Michelle Ugenti Sponsors Bill Honoring Pat Tillman

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 1, 2011
CONTACT: Paul Boyer

Representative Michelle Ugenti is sponsoring the Pat Tillman legacy bill that creates a license plate honoring Pat Tillman. She has secured bill number HB2042 to honor Tillman, who wore #42 as a linebacker for Arizona State. Proceeds of the sales of the plates will benefit military service members and their families

“This piece of legislation is personally important to me because of my family’s close relationship with the Tillman family,” Representative Michelle Ugenti said. “My husband, Frank, grew up with the Tillman family in San Jose and is cousins with Marie Tillman, Pat’s widow.”

HB2042 has an emergency clause. If two thirds of the Legislature in both the House and the Senate support the bill and the Governor signs it, the bill will go into effect immediately and in time for the next annual Pat’s Run on April 21, 2012.

“Together with the Pat Tillman Foundation I am proud to introduce the Pat Tillman Legacy Plate,” Ugenti said. “This bill will allow for the sale of a ‘Pat Tillman Foundation’ Arizona license plate. Proceeds from the sales of the plates will benefit military service members and their families.”

“Having known Pat was a great honor and I will always remember his passion for conversation and how he would engage you in debate as often as possible,” Ugenti said. “We would talk politics, religion, social issues, sports…the topics were endless. And when we ran out of topics there was always Trivial Pursuit, his favorite game.”

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City of Mesa throws Cubs a softball – will taxpayers cry foul?

by Carrie Ann Sitren
Goldwater Institute

Mesa pitched a softball to the Chicago Cubs baseball team, and the Cubs hit it out of the park – but taxpayers should cry foul. Under a new contract, the city will shell out $84 million to build a sparkling new stadium for Cubs spring training. The city promised an additional $15 million for parking, power lines, and other infrastructure, on top of costs for maintenance and capital improvements for 30 years.

The Cubs, on the other hand, will pay around $130,000 annually to the city in rent ($4 million over 30 years). At that rate, it will take literally hundreds of years for the city to break even on its investment. The city must demand more from the Cubs.

Framers of the Arizona Constitution wisely adopted a Gift Clause to ban governments from subsidizing private businesses at the taxpayer’s expense. Mesa’s new stadium deal appears to violate that clause by building a multi-million dollar stadium for the Cubs without requiring the team to return a roughly equal benefit.

When voters authorized public spending for Major League Baseball in Mesa, they didn’t vote away the Constitution. City officials were required to secure a guarantee of direct public benefits from the Cubs in exchange for the city’s $100+ million investment – but $4 million rent doesn’t cut it. There are no guarantees of jobs or tax revenues, and the Cubs can leave with few penalties.

Early in the process, the Goldwater Institute met with city officials, recommending ways to keep the Cubs without violating the constitution. Regrettably, the city adopted none of our suggestions.

Cubbie spring training in Arizona, with all its rich history and tradition, may be intrinsically priceless to some (including yours truly). But the constitution requires a commitment to provide direct, quantifiable value to the public. If the Cubs are confident that they can make the city’s $100 million stadium worth it, then the city should demand that the team step up to the plate and promise performance.

Carrie Ann Sitren is an attorney with the Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation.

Learn More:

Goldwater Institute: Regifting the Gift Clause: How the Arizona Constitution Can End Corporate Subsidies

Goldwater Institute: Proposals to fund new Cubs stadium risk constitutional violations

New York Times: As stadiums vanish, their debt lives on

Statement by Governor Brewer: Arizona to Host Super Bowl XLIX in 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 11, 2011
CONTACT: Matthew Benson

“I was thrilled to learn that NFL owners today awarded the 49th Super Bowl to the great State of Arizona – marking the third time the Phoenix area has hosted the championship game and the second time it will be played in Glendale’s beautiful University of Phoenix Stadium. I want to thank the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee for all of its fine work and, of course, NFL owners who’ve given the state this honor.

“The Super Bowl is indisputably one of the world’s premier sporting events – and an economic boon to any state fortunate enough to play host. In 2008, the last time the Super Bowl was played in Glendale, football fans generated upwards of $500 million in economic impact for Arizona.

“Beyond the economic impact, the Super Bowl will once again shine a bright light on all that our wonderful state has to offer. I know that football fans across Arizona share my enthusiasm in knowing that the Super Bowl is coming back to the Grand Canyon State!”

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Video: Mayor Scruggs on the Phoenix Coyotes

Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs discusses the city’s challenging effort to keep the Phoenix Coyotes hockey team stationed in Glendale.