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Another day, another step closer to keep the Phoenix Coyotes in Arizona.
Ice Edge Holdings, the prospective ownership group long-favored by Coyotes fans to purchase their team, now has a window of exclusivity to negotiate a lease deal with the city of Glendale, Arizona. That town's council met on Tuesday evening, unanimously approving the measure, known as a memorandum of understanding, that gives Ice Edge exclusive negotiating rights with the city for 60 days.
For Coyotes fans, the news is long overdue. Here's our 'Yotes blog, Five For Howling:
While [Glendale council] had previously rejected them for nothing of real consequence, this time they didn't even really discuss much about the deal between themselves. Thankfully they actually remembered all this from the private meetings and from previous sessions. They did a quick powerpoint of what was going to happen if they voted for it, a couple fans addressed the council after CEO Anthony LeBlanc did the same. The council then took a quick vote to approve the [memorandum of understanding] which passed unanimously 7-0, thus ending the brief discussion.
Of course, if things don't work out in the next 60 days between Ice Edge, the Coyotes and Glendale, it will be bad news for the future of the team in Arizona. The only other potential owner who has plans of keeping the team in town, Chicago-sports mogul Jerry Reinsdorf, dropped out of the in the last couple of days.
The Winnipeg Free Press, serving a population that desperately wants the Coyotes to move back north, fis quick to point out how negative this news is for the fans in Arizona. Here's an excerpt from a column by Free Press writer Gary Lawless, titled "Glendale gong show just getting started."
The gong show in Glendale, Ariz., has only just begun.
Jerry Reinsdorf is out of the running to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes and Ice Edge, the lone group now at the table, is wondering aloud about its ability to finance a deal. Don't for a moment think the saga in Glendale is anywhere near over.
Both the NHL and the City of Glendale remain committed to keeping the Coyotes in Arizona and if Ice Edge's bid to buy the Coyotes eventually flames out there will likely be a new suitor ready to step forward and take up the cause.
As time passes and next season creeps closer, Glendale will be under increasing pressure to find a buyer willing to keep the team at the city owned Jobing.com Arena.
The "wondering aloud" of Ice Edge refers to a quote from Ice Edge COO Daryl Jones on Tuesday, in which he said that "there has been a great deal of financial turmoil" recently and that is "going to make it harder for us, or any group, to close this transaction."
Five For Howling writer Jordan Ellel spoke with Ice Edge CEO Anthony LeBlanc at the council meeting on Tuesday, though, and LeBlanc assured him that "the quote was taken a bit out of context and run with."
In the end, the news of IEH acquiring the exclusive negotiating rights is good news for Coyotes fans, but there is still work to be done, as Ellel wrote on Wednesday morning.
Plenty of work still to be done here, but a big step in the right direction last night. Two things to note: had the City Council voted to approve the original Ice Edge MOU back in April (or May...I can't remember exactly when that vote was), it would have a better deal on the table. This one is still preferable to the Reinsdorf deal, but it's not as good a deal for Glendale as that previous MOU. (Of note, Councilman Lieberman was the only member to vote for the Ice Edge deal at the time, despite the fairly anti-Coyotes statements that he's made at times). But regardless, IEH is in with their exclusive window to get the negotiations done...let's see it happen.
It appears as though the Phoenix Coyotes will be staying in Glendale for at least one more year. City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday night to insure the team's operating losses should their current owner, the National Hockey League, not sell the team prior to next season.
The League will still try to sell the Coyotes to a group that will keep them in town, preferably as soon as possible. But if they are unable to do so, they now have the assurances they need from the City to potentially hold on to the team for another year.
Should the League fail to sell the team, Glendale will be on the hook for any operating losses the team should incur up to $25 million. The City plans to gain that money by creating a community-facilities district, which essentially taxes local business -- parties financially vested in the Coyotes sticking around -- in the Westgate City Center area of Glendale, where Jobing.com Arena is located.
But if you ask Glendale officials, they hope it never even comes to that. Council members seemed optimistic at the Tuesday night meeting that a deal would still be struck with a new owner before next season. They suggested that both Ice Edge Holdings and Jerry Reinsdorf's group are still involved in talks, and that they will never be called upon to hand over that money to the team.
Meanwhile, in Winnipeg, where they were hoping to poach the Coyotes away from the Desert in the same way their Jets were taken from them in the mid-90s, fans aren't happy with the developments in Glendale tonight. Those frustrations are evident in the initial story on the meeting from the Winnipeg Free Press.
But the real difference between the Phoenix area and Winnipeg is the number of hockey fans who show up at save-the-franchise rallies.
About 250 Coyotes fans attended Glendale city council tonight. There were several empty seats in the 285-seat gallery. Fifteen years ago this week, on May 16, 1995, about 35,000 people crammed themselves into The Forks to scream "Save the Jets" when it first became apparent the NHL was on its way out of Winnipeg.
Winnipeg supporters also openly mocked Coyotes fans in attendance at the meeting during a live blog that took place on the Free Press website.
For more on this ongoing ownership mess in Phoenix, check SBN's Coyotes blog, Five For Howling.
Glendale City Council will vote tonight on whether or not to agree to fund operating losses for the Phoenix Coyotes next season. If they vote yes, the NHL could keep the team in Arizona next season regardless of whether or not a new owner is found immediately. If they vote no, it could symbolize the door closing on the Mayflower truck pulling out of Jobing.com Arena.
Watch the council meeting online via an online stream of Glendale's Channel 11. Click here to open the the stream in another window.
Today is a big day for the future of the Phoenix Coyotes and their fans.
At 7 PM local time, the Glendale City Council will meet and decide whether or not they are willing to cover operating losses the NHL could incur next season should they fail to sell the team to a new owner. If the council fails to do so, well... SBN's Five For Howling has more on that touchy subject.
Today is do or die day...Glendale City Council meeting is tonight at 7 PM...they will be voting on approving agreements to satisfy the NHL about covering losses if they can't find a new owner by next year. If they don't approve these agreements, it's quite possible that the Coyotes won't be here. All the potential that we, as fans, finally saw from the hard work of this team, of GMDM, of Dave Tippett and the rest of the coaches...all of that will go away because a bunch of elected officials can't get their heads out of their asses. There's only one way to show them how foolish they will be. Show up tonight, in your Coyotes gear, and raise bloody hell. Make it clear to each and every member of that council that if they don't make this work, they can find a new job as soon as they are up for reelection.
(Here's the PDF of the agenda for tonight's Glendale City Council meeting. The related portion is listed as number 14 under 'Consent Resolultions.')
But there are a lot of questions here. As reported on Monday, Ice Edge Holdings, the group favored by Coyotes fans to purchase the club, backed out of negotiations with the City on terms that they want exclusive negotiations. Essentially, they want a rival ownership bid from Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf to be tossed aside for good.
If IEH winds up ending lease negotiations with the City, which owns Jobing.com Arena, the NHL could still keep the team in town for next season. That's where tonight's Council meeting comes in to play. If the Council votes to satisfy the NHL regarding the losses for next season, the Coyotes will likely stay in town for at least another year.
But if the City doesn't agree, that's when all hell will break loose. The obvious next question, then, is should we expect the Glendale Council to agree to these terms?
Well, like everything else, it's very complicated. Those operating losses for next season could reach $20 to 25 million, according to various reports, and it's hard to imagine the City could simply foot the bill in that case. According to The Arizona Republic, Glendale would create a special taxing district called a community-facilites district, which would tax landowners in the area of the arena to pay for the operating losses the team would incur.
But, as also reported by the Republic, that might not be possible.
Two Valley bond experts questioned whether such a taxing district could legally funnel revenues to a sports team.
"In my opinion, an operating loss would not be an eligible use," said Carter Froelich, a Phoenix principal with Development Planning and Financing Group, which works in this area.
Froelich was skeptical of the public purpose. Such taxing districts typically pay for infrastructure such as sewers or streets.
Glendale spokeswoman Julie Frisoni said the city has done its homework.
"We would not have suggested anything we felt was not doable," she said.
IEH is also not asking Glendale to cover its losses. This is the big difference between IEH and Reinsdorf’s bid. Reinsdorf would’ve basically taken money right from the city. IEH wants the city to create a CFD (a funding district) that would raise extra revenue for the team through small taxes to local business, fees for parking at Westgate, etc. A set amount of money is guaranteed to IEH (it’s something like $7 million/year) with the excess going to Glendale. However, if the CFD does not raise this money, then yes, Glendale could be on the hook for some of it. However, if the team becomes profitable (and having sellout crowds night-in and night-out will go a long way towards that), then it shouldn’t be an issue.
Those questions -- if the CFD doesn't raise the money, for example -- seem to be the sticking point here. If the Council is to vote yes at their Tuesday night meeting, they'll be agreeing to pay operating losses on an NHL team without having this taxing district set up and without knowing how large those losses will be.
These are the concerns of councilman Phil Lieberman, who told David Shoalts of the Toronto Globe & Mail the following:
"This is absolutely crazy," council member Phil Lieberman said Sunday. "I will do everything I can to point that out on Tuesday."
"We're broke," Lieberman said. "We're $14.7-million in the hole, we're laying people off, we had to up water bills by 12 bucks a month. How can we raise so much money for a bunch of athletes?"
If you ask Coyotes fans about Lieberman, though, you'll get a different response. According to them, Lieberman knows quite well how the City is able to use the CFD's to pay for any potential Coyotes' operating losses.
There's one giant gaping hole in that logic though. You see Phil Lieberman was the only member of the City Council that voted to use these districts twice. That's right. He voted for Jerry Reinsdorf's proposal that had one in it AND for Ice Edge's original proposal as well. What's so complicated about that now buddy? What you're basically saying is that you don't get how this works, but you went ahead and voted for it last time anyhow? Do you somehow have less information than you did the last time you voted for it? I really just don't understand how that's even possible.
Bob from Western Hockey Exchange does a great job of pointing out the nuts and bolts of what's going on here so I suggest you take a read. But basically only one thing has changed. The Community Funding District would have to be created no matter what and if the City can't get on the ball with Ice Edge then the CFD just pays the NHL while it plays here in Glendale for another season. I don't understand the difference. But then I never understood why one group using the mechanism was alright (Reinsdorf) and then it wasn't alright for another group to use the exact same thing. (Ice Edge)
Regardless, though, there's a lot of doubt on their part, but on the flip side of the coin, if they vote them down and the Coyotes wind up leaving town, they're stuck paying for a brand new arena that has no permanent tenants. Glendale put up $180 million dollars to build the arena.
If the Council says no to the NHL, it will be very bad news for Coyotes fans. The NHL will not cover Coyotes expenses for next season and if the City won't cover them and a new owner won't cover them, the League will sell the team to a group that will relocate the team. Now that Glendale and Ice Edge have broken off talks, it comes down to the Glendale Council tonight.
And in case the vote is no, the NHL reportedly has a contingency plan. From CBC:
The NHL schedule makers have created an itinerary for the 2010-2011 season that includes a team based out of Winnipeg.
The schedule is a contingency plan as the future of the Phoenix Coyotes remains undecided, according to numerous media sources, including CBC Sports national reporter Teddy Katz.
True North Sports and Entertainment is the group that would move the team to Winnipeg. They own MTS Centre in downtown Winnipeg, a 15,000-capacity building that is currently home to the Manitoba Moose of the AHL, which True North also owns. It would take a relatively quick deal between the NHL and True North to put together a sale of the team in time for a Winnipeg team -- let's call them the Jets -- to take the ice for the 2010-2011 season.
But the NHL is clearly planning for the possibility, True North is planning for the possibility, and unfortunately for Coyotes fans, they might have to start planning for the possibility of losing their team if the Glendale Council doesn't come through for them tonight.
TSN's Darren Dreger has reported that Ice Edge Holdings has backed away from the table with the City of Glendale.
What does this mean for the Phoenix Coyotes? No one knows for certain at the moment, but things certainly look bleak in Arizona, while things suddenly are suddenly much more intriguing on the Winnipeg front. We will have much more on this story as it develops, of course, and you can check in on the Phoenix perspective at SBN's Five For Howling.
Good news, Coyotes fans. Ice Edge Holdings, the potential ownership group long favored by die-hard supporters of the club, has reportedly agreed to all terms on a new lease agreement with the City of Glendale. The new lease would keep the Coyotes in Arizona, according to Scott Burnside of ESPN.com.
The two sides are expected to sign a letter of exclusivity by early Monday morning, which will formally end the bid of Chicago sports tycoon Jerry Reinsdorf, although sources told ESPN.com that the city has not considered the Reinsdorf bid viable for some time now.
Ice Edge will not, however, agree to have its new memorandum of understanding submitted to the City Council for a vote until Glendale agrees to a number of conditions outlined by the NHL, chief among them that the city will agree to pay any operating losses the Coyotes might incur next season if a deal to sell the team collapses.
Those requirements will be discussed by City Council at its public meeting Tuesday in Glendale.
While it might not seem smart for Glendale to take on those operating losses, which could reach into the tens of millions and beyond, the city wants to keep the team in town. They just built a brand-new arena and if the 'Yotes leave, it'll be an empty, unused brand-new arena.
If Glendale chooses not to pay those losses, the NHL will likely choose to relocate the team -- probably to Winnipeg. That doesn't seem like it will happen at this point, but then again, this whole process has has more plot twists than an episode of LOST.
In the meantime, you can expect Coyotes fans, especially those who frequent SBN's Five For Howling, to make their voices heard at that Council meeting on Tuesday evening.
Jerry Reinsdorf's bid to own the Phoenix Coyotes has fallen apart and the original Ice Edge Holdings proposal is back on the table, according to 12news in Phoenix. Most of us around the hockey world are completely confused by this entire situation ... still ... so let's turn to the people who know the situation best, Coyotes fans at SBN's Five For Howling:
So at this point do we just throw our collective hands up and just ask anyone in Glendale if they have any clue at all what they're freakin doing? Reports coming from ESPN and elsewhere now have the City of Glendale's perfect little plan to get buddy Reinsdorf installed to run the Coyotes (The deal was actually total crap) has fallen apart. AND They've crawled back on their hands and knees back to Ice Edge Holdings to try and get a deal hammered out.
Daryl Jones of IEH has already stated via twitter that "Ice Edge is not confirming or denying the reports tonight, but we are confirming our bid for Man U has been dropped." AKA, yeah they're probably back in the mix.
AND THAT'S A GOOD THING! They're the guys the fans wanted all along even if the city didn't. They showed up to games, interacted with fans, talked directly to the fanbase and did all the things that a new owner here is going to need to so to make this thing work. I'm sure we'll get 73 different version of what's really going on during the day today, but as of right now I'm glad to have the guys back in it.
Within the controversy between Jim Balsillie, Ice Edge Holdings, and the constant threat of the Coyotes moving, the team itself is gaining momentum with its fan base. The Coyotes are announcing their largest TV rating in five years. From the press release:
The April 3 telecast recorded a 1.34 rating/3 share, the best figure for the team on its television partner since a 1.68 rating/3 share against Minnesota on Jan, 9, 2004. That game featured Brian Boucher setting an NHL record with his fifth consecutive shutout.
The 1.34 rating on Saturday means that approximately 24,154 households in the Phoenix market were tuned into the sold-out game at Jobing.com Arena that was played in front of 17,143 fans. The game had a 1.86 peak rating (33,528 homes).
While it may seem like a small share, the team is starting to win back some of their fans with their stellar play. The question is whether or not they will stay interested.
The City of Glendale has approved lease proposals from Ice Edge Holdings and another group highlighted by Chicago sports owner Jerry Reinsdorf, according to ESPN.com. Both groups have said that if they acquire the team, they would keep them in Phoenix.
For Coyotes fans, this is the first step towards keeping the team in town. The Coyotes are currently owned by the National Hockey League and officials have said that they would contemplate other options -- meaning, out of town options -- if the team couldn't be sold to a local group by June, when their current lease with the city expires.
Logically, then, since the two lease proposals have been approved by the city, it's a solid first step. But what comes next? SBN's Five For Howling tried to answer that question.
First the proposals will have to go in front of the City Council in an open meeting so that they can be voted upon. This will likely happen in the next couple of weeks. They could again approve both offers which would give the NHL leeway to choose either offer. So does that mean everything is finished and tied up in a little bow? No, but it does mean that whatever the two proposals were looking for, Glendale found a way to give them what they needed.
This process is far from over, but as mentioned, it's an encouraging first step for fans in Arizona.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly has released a statement regarding Monday's reports about a possible sale of the Phoenix Coyotes franchise to a Winnipeg-based group, True North Sports and Entertainment.
"In response to the many inquiries we have received in light of the story in the Phoenix Business Journal this morning, we would like to make clear that at this point in time the National Hockey League has no "deal" in place to move the Coyotes' franchise to Winnipeg -- or to any other city for that matter -- in the event a transaction cannot be timely consummated in Glendale. Our focus continues to be on completing a transaction with local ownership that is committed to operating the team in Glendale. Based on the communications and information we are receiving on a regular basis, the stakeholders involved continue to express a high level of confidence that that can be successfully achieved. We will not focus on completing arrangements for one or more alternative option(s) until such time as it may become necessary.
"With respect to Winnipeg and Messrs. Chipman and Thomson, we have had ongoing discussions over time regarding their potential interest in owning an NHL franchise (as we have had with a number of other individuals and cities around North America) and potentially bringing an NHL franchise back to Winnipeg. It remains an intriguing possibility and one we would consider given appropriate circumstances, but there is nothing new to report on that front at this time."
The league sounds committed in keeping the team in Phoenix, which has been the status quo throughout this whole process.
The Phoenix Business Journal is full of all sorts of news after they reported that the NHL had a deal with True North Sports and Entertainment. They are reporting this afternoon that Jerry Reinsdorf will reportedly have an out clause in a potential deal that would allow him to move the Phoenix Coyotes if he cannot get a favorable lease for the team.
Several sources familiar with the Coyotes ownership situation say a Reinsdorf bid could include a clause that would allow the team to get out of its long-term lease at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale. That could mean a move to Las Vegas, Kansas City, Winnipeg or Quebec City.
While all of this seems to be a slight ploy to get the city of Glendale to negotiate better lease terms to keep the team in Glendale, Phoenix fans still have to be annoyed with the threat of moving being constantly beat over their heads.
On the heels of Monday afternoon's report that the NHL has a "deal in principle" with a Winnipeg-based group to sell the Phoenix Coyotes, the Winnipeg Free Press is reporting that among other things, the potential deal is only "Plan C" for the NHL and that it's "not the likely outcome."
The potential ownership group itself, True North Sports and Entertainment, has gone as far as calling the initial report false.
A report earlier today in the Phoenix Business Journal said the league has been working on the plan to relocate the Coyotes as soon as next season with True North partner David Thomson and that there’s a deal in principle.
True North spokesman Scott Brown said the story is false and added that neither he nor True North chairman Mark Chipman would have any further comment on the report.
An NHL source said that a return of the original Winnipeg Jets franchise to the Manitoba capital is likely to be a non-story in a couple of days, after the city council Glendale, Ariz., meets Tuesday to debate possible lease concessions for two parties currently in line to buy the franchise, which is currently owned by the NHL.
(H/T: James Mirtle)
The National Hockey League currently owns the Phoenix Coyotes, and it appears as though their search for a new owner could be coming to a close. Unfortunately for fans in Arizona, that potential owner could be ready to take the team back to Canada.
According to the Phoenix Business Journal, the NHL has a 'deal in principle' with Canadian billionaire David Thomson and a Winnipeg-based group that would see the end of the Coyotes tenure in the desert.
Two sources with knowledge of the Coyotes finances and ownership said a deal between Thomson and the NHL has been completed in principle and could have the Coyotes back in Winnipeg next season if necessary. Thomson, also considered a possible buyer of the, is a partner in True North and chairman of Thomson Reuters. True North owns the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League and MTS Centre in Winnipeg, which seats 15,100.
The sources said, however, the NHL still wants to work out a deal to keep the Coyotes in the Phoenix market. The league bought the Coyotes, still in Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, for $140 million in October fending off a $242 million bid by Research in Motion CEO Jim Balsillie, who wanted to move the team to Hamilton, Ontario.
It should be noted, though, that the article also states that the NHL would still prefer to keep the Coyotes in Glendale, Arizona, but that the NHL has set a deadline of June 2010 to have a local owner in place before looking to groups that would potentially move the team.
Ice Edge Holdings, a group that would keep the team in Glendale, has been seen as the front runner to land the club for some time now, but the report suggests that they are running into financing trouble. If a deal can be completed with Ice Edge, there's really no doubt that the NHL would sell to them before selling to a group that would relocate the team.
The Coyotes have lost barrels of money in their time in Phoenix, but this news comes at a time when the team is playing their best hockey in years; the Coyotes have wrapped up a playoff spot and attendance is up. It remains to be seen how this news will play out, of course, but it couldn't come at a worse time for a franchise trying to get fans back and excited about playoff hockey.
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