Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Winnipeg, Phoenix, Seattle and why relocation is awful

It looks like the Phoenix Coyotes are going to be around Glendale, Arizona for at least another year. TSN's Dave Naylor writes that the city council there voted 5-2 to give the team a $25 million subsidy if they haven't found a buyer by the end of the 2011-12 season. As Joe Yerdon writes, that subsidy should keep them there for at least another year, if not longer, and that means Winnipeg probably isn't getting a team this summer. Of course, that won't make everyone happy; it was only decided after a hilarious council meeting (described perfectly by friend of the blog Dennis Tarwood) that featured plenty of comments both for and against the idea, and it's sure to meet with criticism from the Goldwater Institute, many Canadian hockey fans and media outlets, economists and others. However, while there are substantial issues around hockey in Phoenix that still need to be addressed, keeping the team there is a good thing from this perspective.

It's not that economic arguments should be written off entirely. Having a league directly subsidize a team (as the NHL has been doing with Phoenix over the last while) is very problematic for the perception of that league, and it's also troubling from a financial point of view. Having a city council potentially hand out that kind of money to what's supposedly a professional, for-profit sports franchise isn't necessarily a great idea either; I can't speak for the taxpayers of Glendale, but they can decide if that's the best use of their money or not. It's certainly not the greatest long-term solution. However, there are positives to keeping the team in Phoenix, and those need to be recognized.