Coyotes might face problems with free parking

Christian Petersen

The Phoenix Coyotes will begin charging for parking in 2013-14 as part of their newly signed lease agreement with Glendale. However, free lots closer to the arena might prove problematic to that plan.

The Phoenix Coyotes recently resolved their ownership situation by procuring a 15-year arena lease agreement with the City of Glendale that will pay the team $15 million annually to manage Jobing.com Arena. However, a potential flaw in the agreement was presented by Paul Giblin of AZCentral.com on Wednesday night.

A component of the agreement included Glendale receiving money back from the Coyotes, which was projected to come from other revenue streams such as parking fees, which is something the franchise previously offered for free (they were the final NHL team to do so). The team presently owns 5,500 parking spots in the Westgate Entertainment District, which houses the arena, a movie theater, restaurants, bars and retail stores.

While the team controls some parking, Westgate also offers 3,000 free parking spaces, which Giblin notes could be an alternative for hockey fans looking to avoid the newly implemented fees. In some instances, the free parking is actually located closer to the arena than the lots owned by the Coyotes.

Despite the Coyotes plan to charge for parking, Westgate has no plans to alter the status of its free spaces, according to Jeff Teetsel, who heads Teetsel Properties, the managing company of the Westgate spaces, via AZCentral.com:

"The facts are what they are. We have spaces at the shopping center that are free. We would think and hope that people that are just coming to the game would park in the arena lots. And those that are coming to patronize Westgate, either on their way to or after the game, or just to go to Westgate itself, for example for a movie, they're certainly welcome to park in our lots."

The Coyotes project that hockey fans need approximately 4,642 parking spaces per game, which is based on last season's average attendance of 13,926. That projection exceeds the amount of free spaces available, without taking into account patronage at other facilities in the entertainment district.

Of course, concern persists about the Coyotes' finances because of the controversial five-year out-clause written into the lease agreement, which allows IceArizona to terminate the deal if losses exceed $50 million. Any leakage of revenue opens the floodgates of paranoia and speculation.

Ultimately, if Coyotes fans like having a team in Arizona, they should probably park in the Coyotes lots instead of the free spaces, at the very least, as a safety precaution.

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