Team could save $4M on rent break

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Phoenix Coyotes have been playing virtually rent-free at Jobing.com Arena for the past seven months while the city of Glendale has been trying to fill a multimillion-dollar hole in its own budget.

The struggling Coyotes could save about $4 million over the course of a year based on past payments to the city, which owns the arena.

Glendale City Council members said they had no idea about the break on the lease.

"Absolutely I should have been told," Councilman Phil Lieberman told Phoenix television station KPNX. "They're using that money for their operating money when it should have been paid to the City of Glendale."

Councilwoman Joyce Clark, who represents the district that's home to the Coyotes, said she was never told about the situation.

Glendale spokeswoman Julie Frisoni said there was no need to notify council members because it was part of a change to an agreement, not an entirely new agreement the council would have to vote on.

The Coyotes said last week that several potential investors had approached them about the franchise, which reportedly has lost $200 million-plus since moving to Glendale in December 2003. Reworking the arena lease is viewed as vital to luring new investors.

Moody's bond rating agency has raised concerns about Glendale's ability to service its mounting debt, after the city borrowed $200 million to build the new spring training complex for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox. Moody's cited continued declines in sales tax revenue.