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Today Among Our Wonderful Elites


Lavish subsidies to plutocrats — what could possibly go wrong?

The City Council in the debt-strapped Phoenix suburb, which owns the Coyotes’ money-losing arena, voted to pay Jamison nearly $325 million over 20 years to operate the rink as part of his bid to purchase the club from the N.H.L. The league bought the Coyotes out of bankruptcy in 2009.\


An analysis by The Arizona Republic revealed that even if the Coyotes went to the Stanley Cup finals for each of the next 20 seasons and the building booked 30 sold-out concerts for that same period, the city would still lose $9 million a year.

The figure did not include the city’s annual debt payments for the arena, which the newspaper reported as $12.6 million a year over the next 20 years.

What’s particularly striking about this massive sinkhole that when you’re talking about the NHL in Phoenix, it’s not like there’s any serious non-economic benefits are involved. Economically irrational subsidies to keep an NHL team in Edmonton or Calgary or Quebec City at least maintain an institution that is valuable to substantial numbers of residents (and are extremely difficult to justify even so.) But as a first approximation zero people not actually receiving free money from the Glendale City Council would care if there wasn’t professional hockey in Arizona, and moreover the plutocrat welfare in this case had the effect of causing the team to move from a market where non-trivial numbers of people do care about the sport.

Of course, if you point any of this out you might get fired by the wingnut owner of your newspaper (who, to his perverse credit, makes no pretense about favoring free markets as opposed to being “pro-business.”) Looks like somebody has a followership problem!

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