The folks at the Goldwater Institute were fielding calls all Tuesday morning from news reporters wondering how the all-powerful institute will rule on the state of professional hockey in Arizona.
The “judge” in this case is Goldwater attorney Carrie Ann Sitren, who has been sequestered in her office poring over the public documents released by the city of Glendale concerning the deal they hashed out with what they hope is a new ownership group for the Phoenix Coyotes.
Sitren and others at the institute have promised a lawsuit to stop any deal that violates a provision of the Arizona Constitution known as the “gift clause.”
It reads: “neither the state, nor any county, city, town municipality, or other subdivision of the state shall ever give or loan its credit in the aid of, or make any donation or grant, by subsidy or otherwise…”
As most people know, Glendale has pretty much given away the store to keep the Coyotes in town and to make a go of Jobing.com Arena and the surrounding development.
Politicians, including U.S. Sen. John McCain, have urged Goldwater to stay out of negotiations and think of the greater good.
But as Sitren told me a few weeks ago, “The gift clause is there as a protection for taxpayers. It IS the greater good.”
There is no doubt that Glendale will be offering a sweetheart deal.
The only question is whether the city’s lawyers and the new ownership group are clever enough to craft an agreement in which a gift is not really a gift – legally.
The judges at Arizona’s unofficial supreme court of hockey haven’t ruled on that yet.