Push on to win back city support for new arena

Thursday, March 1st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) _ Now that new Phoenix Coyotes owner Steve Ellman finally has the team, his next effort is to keep Scottsdale's approval for his plans to build a home arena.

Ellman is launching a marketing blitz this week to that end, just days before the City Council is to decide the project's future.

On Monday, the council will take a look at a ``terms sheet'' outlining major agreements between the city and Ellman for the arena and redevelopment of a defunct shopping mall for which the rink is to be the anchor. If the council doesn't see sufficient progress, it could kill the $575 million redevelopment project.

In a series of full-page newspaper ads, Ellman will be asking residents to let the new mayor and council know that they still support the proposal.

Preoccupied with arranging financing to buy the team, Ellman somewhat let negotiations with the city slide. In December, the council extended to March 5 the life of the stadium district that will provide some of the funding, but members said ``not again'' unless there was significant progress.

Council members say they aren't impressed by Ellman's last-minute public effort.

The future of the project will depend ``upon the points they present to us and not on how many people show up waving Coyotes banners,'' Councilman Ned O'Hearn said. ``Keeping hockey in Scottsdale or the valley is more than a marketing campaign. It's facts and figures and what are prospects for the (National Hockey League) in this market.''

Bob Kaufman, Ellman Cos. senior vice president, said he has been working almost around the clock with a city negotiator to complete key financial information to present to the council.

Voters have approved the project twice, in effect, once in creating the district and later on permitting use of certain tax revenues to finance a portion of the project.