Coyotes arena plan must overcome skepticism on financing method

The Capitol Times
Friday, April 15, 2016
Jeremy Duda

If the Arizona Coyotes want lawmakers to pass legislation that will allow them to build a new publicly funded hockey arena, the team will have to find a way to overcome the Legislature’s historic opposition to the funding mechanism it hopes to use.
A 49-page draft bill that the Coyotes’ lobbyist quietly shopped around the Senate earlier this year would allow the creation of entities called municipal facilities districts, which would be permitted to issue bonds for the financing of a new arena. The bonds would be partly financed using a form of tax increment financing, in which an entity bonds against future revenues that it expects to generate from the project being financed.
Traditional tax increment financing uses future increases in property tax revenue. The proposal shopped by the Coyotes instead relies on sales taxes that would be generated in the new districts, as well as excise taxes that the district would be permitted to levy.
Lobbyist Jim Norton, whose firm, Axiom Public Affairs, represents the Coyotes, brought the proposed legislation to Senate President Andy Biggs. He urged Norton to speak with Sen. Debbie Lesko, a Peoria Republican and chair of the Senate Finance Committee.
At Norton’s request, Lesko said, she and Biggs also met with National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman. Lesko said the commissioner didn’t really lobby for the proposed legislation, but emphasized that his goal was to keep the Coyotes in Arizona.