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Drama in the Desert

Goldwater’s response to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman

Goldwater Institute to NHL Commissioner: Sports franchises not above the law

Phoenix—NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman Tuesday night accused the Goldwater Institute of blocking a scheme under which Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer would receive a greater than $100 million taxpayer subsidy to buy the Coyotes. The independent taxpayer watchdog organization is not party to the arrangement but has attempted to obtain public records related to the deal to determine its legality. Bettman refused to accept the Goldwater Institute’s invitation to meet in a transparent setting open to journalists, stating, “the situation is far too serious for such game play.”

Goldwater Institute President Darcy Olsen responded, “It sounds like Commissioner Bettman is playing a game of his own: Hide the ball.” The City of Glendale has been under a court order to provide the Institute with records pertaining to the Coyotes sale since July 2009, but the city has delayed multiple requests for public documents and instructed its attorneys to “ignore” the Goldwater Institute’s public information requests.

The Goldwater Institute argues that citizens have the right to know how public officials plan to spend more than $100 million tax dollars. “We will not stop this investigation until this information comes to light,” Olsen reiterated.

Bettman added, “it fascinates me that whoever is running the Goldwater Institute can substitute their judgment for that of the Glendale city council.” Goldwater Institute President Darcy Olsen replied that, “I guess we are both fascinated. It happens to fascinate me greatly that the Commissioner thinks a handful of politicians can substitute their judgment for the rule of law.”

Olsen said the Institute will continue combing through more than 600 pages of documents provided by the city in the last few business days. Olsen said the situation could be resolved if a willing buyer agrees to buy the team with his own money, making this a win-win for Coyotes fans and taxpayers alike. “The NHL is negotiating a deal to sell the Dallas Stars right now, and no taxpayer money appears to be on the table,” said Olsen. “The Goldwater Institute is trying to protect citizens who don’t have the resources to fight city hall. We are not anxious to sue Glendale, which would be a further waste of tax dollars, but no person or city should be above the law. We hope the city will abide by the law and render further legal action unnecessary.”