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.