AZ House approves taxpayer bailout for City of Glendale (and possible slush fund for the 2016 RNC Convention)


The Sierra Vista Herald has been perplexed by House Majority Leader David Gowan (R-Sierra Vista) being the sponsor of a bill to use taxpayer dollars to bailout the spendthrift City of Glendale for hosting Super Bowl XLIX on February 1, 2015.

In January the Herald outlined the bill, Our View: Making noise at the Capitol:

House Majority Leader David Gowan proposed a bill to help communities pay for costs incurred when hosting large national events. The case at hand is the 2015 Super Bowl which will be held in Glendale.

Gowan’s bill would set aside up to $4 million to help that city next year pay for additional security and public works costs that come with playing host to the largest spectacle in sports. The money could also be tapped for other events — the Republican National Convention, the college basketball Final Four — to help cities defray additional costs.

Gowan’s argument is that the sheer size of the event benefits the entire state, generating additional tourism revenue and sales taxes, somewhat offsetting some of the added cost incurred by the individual city.

In February, the Herald editorialized against the bill, OUR VIEW: Not a popular idea:

[T]hanks to Legislative District 14 State Rep. David Gowan, discussion of the National Football League isn’t far off track from the politics we usually consider in this space.

Gowan, the House Majority Leader, is the sponsor of HB2547 which proposes establishing a fund for major events hosted by Arizona cities to help pay public safety costs related to the event.

The impetus for the bill is the city of Glendale, which has approached the state with hat in hand stating it doesn’t have enough money to stage the NFL Super Bowl in 2015.

We’re not sure if it’s Gowan’s presumed love of football or his role as majority party leader that led him to believe he should represent Glendale’s interest. Whatever the reason, his bill passed through the House Committee on Public Safety, Military and Regulatory Affairs on Wednesday by a 6-1 vote.

Provisions of the bill establish a fund with a cap on payouts not to exceed $2 million, and restricts use of the money to public safety expenditures.

Glendale estimates its costs will reach $3.2 million for public safety for the Super Bowl next year, but as the mayor of that city told media sources this week, “… something is better than nothing.”

Which is really the point for the rest of Arizona. Glendale has spent money like a drunken sailor in recent years, saddling property taxpayers with a sports district that borrowed $500 million before the economy collapsed. The city poured money into a spring-training baseball complex, a hockey arena, a conference center, a parking garage and a media center.

Despite placing a burden of more than $3,200 of debt on every Glendale resident, the city was an aggressive bidder for the 2015 Super Bowl, even though the numbers clearly indicate the venture is not a money-maker for the host city.

* * *

The idea of state funds being set aside to make sure the multi-billion dollar entertainment conglomerate that is the NFL can play in a city that has spent its way to near-bankruptcy, is understandably less than popular among Arizonans, no matter what part of the state they hail from.

On Wednesday, the Arizona House approved  HB 2547 (.pdf) on a bipartisan vote of 33-25 (2 not voting). The bill contains a delayed repeal date for the Fund as of December 31, 2015. However, Section 3 of the bill also establishes a study committee to determine whether the fund should be continued, and to submit its report by December 1, 2015. The bill has a repeal provision for “on or after September 2016.”

So what we have here is: (1) a taxpayer-funded bailout to the spendthrift City of Glendale for Super Bowl XLIX in February 2015, and (2) should the City of Phoenix be selected by the RNC for the 2016 National Republican Convention, RNC names eight finalists for 2016 GOP convention – Washington Post, you can be damned certain that our Tea-Publican controlled legislature will continue the Fund to spend your taxpayer dollars to subsidize their little soirée.

The average fan can’t get affordable Super Bowl tickets (the NFL has made just 1 percent of Super Bowl seats available to the general public at face value). The Super Bowl is for corporate executives and the wealthy elite. Why should the taxpayers of Arizona bailout the spendthrift City of Glendale for an event that the average Arizonan can’t even afford to attend and will have to watch on TV?

As for the 2016 Republican National Convention, the RNC can tap the billionaires of the”Kochtopus” organizations headquartered in the state of Maricopa — hell, the Arizona Republican Party is already a wholly owned subsidiary of the “Kochtopus,” let them pay for it. $4 million is walking around money for these guys.

Arizona poverty ranks 5th highest in country (2013), so why are Arizonans being asked to subsidize the über-rich elites of the plutocracy to come play in Arizona? Let them pay their own way!


  1. Despite the rhetoric, Republicans in the Arizona Legislature *LOVE* to waste money. Two good examples can be found on the front page of BfAZ today:

    – Republicans are flooding Glendale with cash to help them sponsor our nationally televised gladiator show (AKA, the Super Bowl).

    – Republicans voted to force voters to re-vote every 8 years for initiatives that they already voted on. How much will that cost us!!??

    And the Republicans’ ongoing favorite way to waste taxpayer money: pass unconstitutional laws and waste money fighting futilely for them in court (ie, SB1070, 20 week abortion, medical marijuana, independent redistricting, etc.) The Star recently reported that the SB1070 legal fees were in the millions. I’d really like to see a more comprehensive accounting of how much has been WASTED by Republicans on unnecessary lawsuits to defend unconstitutional or just plain bad legislation during Governor Jan Brewer’s reign of terror.

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