Finally, Phoenix Coyotes fans can focus on hockey.
After two long years of constant worry surrounding the future of their hockey club, the City of Glendale, Ariz. tonight approved a new lease agreement between the Coyotes and likely new owner Matthew Hulsizer.
The deal, approved by Glendale City Council by a vote of 5-2 late Tuesday night, will see the City hand $197 million over to Hulsizer over the course of the next six years. $100 million of that money gives the City the right to collect parking fees at Jobing.com Arena, which is owned by Glendale. The other $97 million goes to Hulsizer for the purpose of operating the arena.
The Arizona Republic has full details of the deal, which was agreed to in principle between the mayor and Hulsizer last week. Included, what Hulsizer agrees to:
- Keep the team in Glendale for the next 23 years, the remaining time the city has on its lease with the team. That's also the length of time the city still owes on its borrowing to build the arena.
- Pay the same amount of arena rent and fees to Glendale as previous owners, as much as $6 million a year.
- Work to rename the team the Arizona Coyotes.
One slight bit of confusion surrounds the length of the deal. The Republic and other published reports are saying that it's a 23 year deal, or, the remainder of the current lease. At the council meeting in Glendale, though, they kept referring to a "30 year" term, which would imply this is a brand new lease. That detail, as major as it seems in the long run and as minor as it may seem right now, will surely be hashed out in the coming days.
There are two obstacles left between Hulsizer owning this team, one of which isn't really an obstacle at all. First, the NHL has to approve the sale of the team to Hulsizer. Given that Gary Bettman himself was in Glendale for Tuesday's hearing to show his support for the deal, it's pretty clear that the NHL will be approving that sale.
The other obstacle comes in the form of a potential court challenge. The conservative-leaning Goldwater Institute made a stink over the deal via a letter to the City, saying that it could violate state law. Their reasoning, according to the Phoenix Business Journal? Glendale is giving a financial gift to a private business. In this case, it's the gift of $197 million to Hulsizer.
Glendale's position on that is a simple one, however. It's in their best interest, and perhaps even could be considered a financial necessity, to have the Coyotes in Jobing.com Arena. Having a building sit with no tenant isn't exactly the way to generate the revenue to pay for a project that's not yet payed off. It's an investment from the city.
Our Coyotes blog, Five For Howling, has a lot more on the situation. Surely, they hope this is one of the last business-related stories they have to write for some time.