On Tuesday in Glendale, Ariz., the City Council will vote to dole out more money to keep the NHL-owned Phoenix Coyotes in their town for at least one more season. It would be a $25 million payment to the league to cover operating losses for the upcoming season, which would come in addition to the $25 million paid by the City a week ago to cover operating losses for the 2010-11 season.
By all local accounts, the vote is expected to pass, which will give the NHL the comfort it needs to keep operating the team beyond this summer, which it previously said it would not do. The thinking is that if they hold on to the team another year, it will buy the time to come to terms with Matthew Hulsizer, a businessman that would keep them at Jobing.com Arena for the long-term.
And thus, out of Winnipeg or any other locale -- at least for another year.
If the money isn't handed over from Glendale to the NHL, all bets are off and the team could very easily find itself in a new home sooner rather than later. But with all that the City has wrapped up in the team and the arena, which would go vacant should the Coyotes leave, it seems like a lock that they'll fork over the dollars.
Should that happen, True North Sports in Winnipeg could turn their attention elsewhere, according to a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. You see where this is going. Could they look to purchase and relocate the Thrashers?
The Atlanta Spirit, owner of the Thrashers, Hawks and the operating rights to Philips Arena, have been looking for a buyer and/or investors and have said relocation is a possibility. Co-owner Michael Gearon Jr. told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in February and again last week that there is a "sense of urgency" to find a solution to the financial losses suffered by the team. The Thrashers could fetch upwards of $170 million from True North with the NHL getting around $60 million as a relocation fee.
The Thrashers are not expected to be sold for that much to a buyer that would keep the team in Atlanta.
And that's really what it seems to come down to, right? Are the current owners more interested in getting top dollar for the Thrashers, or are they willing to take a bit less to keep them in town?
It's a little bit more complex than that, considering the group also owns the arena and it's written into their deal that should the Thrashers move, they'll lose money on the naming rights from Philips.
The answers seem to be in the math, and Atlanta Spirit looks like they could have a huge decision on their hands in the very near future.