Phoenix/ Politics & Govt
AI Assisted Icon
Published on April 24, 2024
Arizona Lawmakers Clash Over Tax Authority in Stadium Districts Amid Sports Franchise MovementsSource: Wikipedia/Arizona Coyotes

The controversy is heating up in the Arizona legislature over who gets to levy taxes on burgeoning stadium districts, following the NHL's Arizona Coyotes' exodus to Utah. According to FOX 10 Phoenix, state senators are currently locked in debate over a bill that seeks to shift the taxing authority from cities to counties. This move comes too late for the Coyotes, whose plans to build a new stadium district in Tempe were kicked to the curb by local voters last year.

Former Coyotes business officer Nick Sakiewicz is now looking to potentially build a soccer stadium in Mesa, aiming to leverage the possibilities of a theme park district. "This bill will help us to generate more income on the property and create a win-win situation for Maricopa County and the state of Arizona," Sakiewicz told FOX 10 Phoenix. Critics, however, like state senator Juan Mendez, remain skeptical, "Nobody should be taking our public goods to make a private person profit. That's not what taxes are for," he stated in clear opposition to the proposal.

On the other side, advocates of the bill claim it promises to correct an unbalanced system that otherwise favors the city of Phoenix. State senator Jake Hoffman of the Republican party emphasized, "The bottom line is that the bill will increase taxpayer protections and strengthen private property rights, while leveling the playing field so more cities and the county have the opportunity to utilize this tool, ensuring a more equitable system," as reported by ABC15 Arizona. Though the city of Phoenix has declared a neutral stance, further changes to the bill might still to come that could grant larger cities a more significant role in new developments.

Meanwhile, the Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo, while shifting his NHL team to Salt Lake City, is not out of the game in Arizona. He is shooting for an expansion team provided he constructs a new arena within five years. Meruelo is committed to a June 27 state land trust auction for property where he plans to develop a $3 billion entertainment complex inclusive of an arena, according to ABC15 Arizona. Though the move of the Coyotes is assessed by the Grand Canyon Institute to be a negligible economic loss for Arizona, the future of stadium districts and the tax revenues they could potentially divert continues to be a hard-fought issue within the state legislature.