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.