Former assistant city manager calls Glendale allegation ‘ludicrous’ in city’s battle with Coyotes

Gila River Arena’s future hosting Coyotes games is up in the air. (Flickr image from Jeff Shewan/Creative Commons)

Former Glendale Assistant City Manager Julie Frisoni told Cronkite News on Friday that she was “appalled” by allegations from Glendale lawyers that placed her at the center of the battle over an arena lease agreement between the city and the Arizona Coyotes.

“I’ve never heard something as ludicrous in my life,” Frisoni said in a phone interview. “Their information is completely baseless, untrue, and without any merit whatsoever.”

At a hearing held at Maricopa County Superior Court Friday afternoon, Glendale attorneys named Frisoni and former Glendale City Attorney Craig Tindall as two individuals who they allege may have had a conflict of interest under Arizona law that would enable the City Council to terminate its lease agreement with the team.

Arizona Revised Statute 38-511 was cited at Wednesday night’s Glendale City Council special meeting when the council voted 5-2 to void the lease and arena management agreement with the Coyotes.

Julie Frisoni photo

Glendale placed former assistant city manager Julie Frisoni at the center of the fight between the city and the Arizona Coyotes. (Photo courtesy Frisoni PR)

The statute allows a government entity to end a contract with another party if an employee who was “significantly involved in initiating, negotiating, securing, drafting or creating the contract” begins working for the other party to the agreement.

Frisoni, who said she joined the city of Glendale in 2002 as communications director, was still in that role when the Glendale City Council approved the 15-year, $225 million agreement with the Coyotes in July 2013.

“I had zero input into the negotiation whatsoever,” Frisoni said. “To say anything else is absolutely as far fetched as I can imagine.”

Frisoni was adamant.

“I wasn’t involved in any way, shape or form,” Frisoni said. “Never was involved in a meeting, in a conversation, in a negotiation.”

Friday’s hearing was the first time Glendale representatives shared the names of Frisoni and Tindall publicly.

“I’m appalled and disgusted at what they’re doing, what they’re trying to do and the facts of the case speak for themselves,” Frisoni said. “The law is very clear but to out-and-out lie about an individual’s interaction related to a multimillion dollar contract is beyond what I ever would have expected from the city of Glendale.”

When contacted by Cronkite News, a Glendale spokesperson was unable to provide a response to Frisoni’s comments from Glendale city leaders as of 10 p.m. Friday.

Frisoni said she was promoted to interim city manager in August 2013 before being named assistant city manager at the beginning of 2014. She left the city in April to launch her own public relations firm, Frisoni PR.

In May, Frisoni said she began helping the Coyotes prepare a bid to host the 2018 World Junior Hockey Championship.

Coyotes spokesman Rich Nairn told Cronkite News that the team had contacted Glendale to make sure the city had no problem with them hiring Frisoni if she were interested in helping them with the 2018 World Junior Championship bid.

“Before the Coyotes contacted Ms. Frisoni, the Coyotes emailed City of Glendale Attorney Michael Bailey to make sure that the city had no issues with us working with Ms. Frisoni,” Nairn said in an email. “City Attorney Michael Bailey had no concerns.”

According to Frisoni, the event could’ve brought about 350,000 people to Glendale over a two-week period had the city been awarded the World Junior Championship.

Nairn said the team is no longer seeking to host the event.

“Due to the actions taken by the city of Glendale this week, the Arizona Coyotes were forced to pull their bid for a future World Junior Championship,” Nairn said.

At the hearing on Friday, Maricopa County Superior Court judge Dawn Bergin granted a temporary restraining order against Glendale that will allow the Coyotes to continue to operate at Gila River Arena for the time being.

A pretrial conference for the two parties is scheduled for June 29 at 10:30 a.m.

The Glendale City Council will hold an executive session Tuesday to discuss Glendale’s management agreement with the Coyotes.

Cronkite News reporter Michael Nowels contributed to this story.