With the city of Glendale’s vote to cancel its arena lease agreement with the Arizona Coyotes Wednesday, co-owner Anthony LeBlanc said the decision has left him “bewildered.”
LeBlanc joined Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s Doug & Wolf on Thursday and explained the team’s viewpoint on what has transpired over the past 36 hours.
“There is so much. This is cheap, political gamesmanship,” LeBlanc said when asked what angered him most about the situation. “It was a threat to try to get us to renegotiate an agreement that is less than two years old. They dug up a state statute that was written to avoid cronyism.
“What they’ve done is interpreted it in a way that they feel is going to get them to a means to their end — which is tearing up this contract. They are interpreting the law in the wrong way. And more importantly, they have no case.”
What Glendale did was throw away the 15-year, $225-million deal it had made for Gila River Arena in 2013 in a 5-2 vote.
Where LeBlanc thinks the Glendale council is misinterpreting the law comes from two beliefs that Glendale has in regards to the agreement.
First is the employment of attorney Craig Tindall. He used to work for the city and now does for the team.
“They are saying Craig Tindall, their former city attorney, is this nefarious individual who broke the law,” LeBlanc said.
The statute states an employee who has significant involvement in a negotiation on the behalf of the city cannot be employed by an organization that is entered into an agreement with the city.
“The problem is, Mr. Tindall was terminated months before we started negotiating,” LeBlanc said. “Their entire claim of significant involvement is one email.
“An email that was sent by three council members to Mr. Tindall five days before the vote after the agreement had been put together to ask his opinion because they wanted a second opinion from someone they trusted about three small points. They are claiming this is significant involvement. Our legal team is baffled. They actually cannot believe the city is moving forward with this.”
The other concern for the city is how the Coyotes have been using the money they receive to manage the arena.
“Their claim was that we used the money to pay down debt,” LeBlanc said. “Which wasn’t the case, but regardless, our agreement has a cure period of 30 days if we’re ever notified that we breached the agreement.
“We’ve never been notified that we breached the agreement. But if that was their claim in regards to debt, we no longer have that lender so it was cured before it was even notified as a breach.”
The team plans to take legal action and will do everything in its power to keep the agreement as is.