Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Glendale insures up to $25 million for Phoenix Coyotes operations through 2010-2011 season

Another twist and turn to the ongoing ownership saga had led to recent fever pitch rumors running rampant about the future fate of the Phoenix Coyotes. Following Monday's reports that the Ice Edge Holdings investors group had broken off talks with Glendale, Arizona city officials on negotiating a new arena lease agreement, speculation surfaced about whether or not the franchise would be leaving town. Among the possible destinations was none other than the Coyotes' original home, that being Winnipeg, Manitoba.

However, one big step in a positive direction was made during last night's Glendale City Council meeting. The National Hockey League provided the latest development with a news bulletin at 1:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time this morning:

The Phoenix Coyotes might be finished with the 2010 NHL playoffs, but the team's success continued Tuesday night. The Glendale city council voted 7-0 Tuesday night in favor of guaranteeing the League up to $25 million to keep the Coyotes in Arena for the 2010-2011 season.

"The amount is capped at $25 million to recoup expenses of any operating loss," explained NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, who attended the meeting in Glendale. "A key point here is this is nothing more than an insurance policy in case there is no (sale) of the team this summer. No money changes hands if there is a successful transaction."

Daly said the next few days will be important to "paper and document" Tuesday night's vote and give proper authority to Glendale city manager Ed Beasley. Both Beasley and Daly told the Glendale council that a sale of the Coyotes is expected by the end of June.

Beasley informed the council both Chicago sports franchise owner Jerry Reinsdorf (approved as a buyer by the Glendale council in April) and the Ice Edge Holdings (a group of Canadian and U.S. investors) are still talking to the city about buying the Coyotes.

Daly confirmed both Reinsdorf and Ice Edge remain as potential buyers and, while emphasizing Glendale will look to initially work with these two purchase groups, said it was possible that another buyer wanting to purchase the team and keep it in Glendale might emerge.

The NHL bought the team out of bankruptcy last September, making it known that it intended to find a buyer that would keep the franchise in Arizona. On the ice, the team's stellar regular season (a fourth-place finish in the Western Conference) and a thrilling seven-game playoffs series with defending conference champion Detroit led to a string of sellouts and a well-timed surge of fan support and excitement for the franchise.

"The Coyotes' success absolutely helped (with Tuesday's unanimous vote and the up-to-$25 million guarantee)," Daly said. "The way fans embraced the club and filled up the arena in both the regular season and postseason showed the team is a viable business entity here in Arizona."

So for now, should a new owner not be found by June 30th, the assurance of any short term operating losses will be covered by the city of Glendale (Phoenix's neighboring northwest suburb) while the NHL maintains ownership of the club.