We've said it a hundred times, but this time with an NHL deadline looming, it really finally does feel like d-day for the Phoenix Coyotes. The City of Glendale council will convene for a special meeting at 10 p.m. ET on Tuesday night, where they'll vote on a lease proposal from Renaissance Sports & Entertainment.
RSE, also known as IceArizona, has already been approved by the NHL as a buyer for the still-league-owned Coyotes. The next step is for Glendale to sign off on a lease agreement for the team to remain in the City-owned Jobing.com Arena, and that's the subject of Tuesday's vote.
There are basically two options for Glendale. One keeps the team in Glendale while the other one likely sends them off to Seattle or Quebec City, but the bad news for hockey fans is that the latter option is more financially attractive -- at least in the short-term -- for Glendale.
The city owns the arena, so they're committed to it no matter where the hockey team plays next season. They'll pay $500,000 for repairs next year regardless, and they'll pay $8.4 million in debt service either way as well. The big difference in the proposals is around the arena management fee. IceArizona wants $15 million per year for the next 15 years to run the arena, while the city could hire an arena manager on their own for $6 million per year.
Glendale will lose approximately $12.9 million next year if they approve IceArizona's proposal, while if they let the team walk, they'd lose approximately $10.9 million according to numbers compiled by AZCentral.com. But having the team in the arena is a significant boost to Westgate City Center, the retail and entertainment destination of which Jobing.com Arena is an anchor. Eliminating 41 Coyotes home games from the calendar could cripple the surrounding area, thus eliminating jobs and tax revenue for the city. The city would also lose tax and surcharge revenue from hockey ticket sales and parking fees should the team leave town.
In the proposal being voted on by City Council Tuesday, IceArizona has an out-clause option after five years should their losses go off the charts. The city reportedly wants that same option, but IceArizona says that could be a deal-breaker. With the city in possession of an out-clause, it might be tough for IceArizona to secure financing, the problem that has plagued so many Coyotes bids in the past.
It comes down to this: The NHL has a deadline of July 2 on the table. They have other business to attend to, including releasing a schedule for the 2013-14 season that may or may not include the Phoenix Coyote. Bill Daly, Gary Bettman and the league have certainly lost their patience with the entire process after presenting several buyers to Glendale in the past, only to have the lease agreement fall through for one reason or another.
If Glendale Council approves the RSE lease proposal on Tuesday night, the team will stay in town for the foreseeable future. If they don't, it's a near-certainty that they'll be shipping off to greener pastures in the coming weeks.