Now that the entry draft is over, the eyes of all the hockey fans will turn to the Phoenix Coyotes saga that is happening in Glendale. Since the June 27th, 2012 deadline dictated by the NHL to the City of Glendale and the Greg Jamison group is rapidly approaching. Gary Bettman will need to make a decision to determine the future of the Coyotes before July 1st, 2012, the day free agent frenzy begins in the NHL.
The NHL has two options: it keeps the team under its control in Glendale for one more year if Glendale accepts to pay another $25MM subsidy per year to run the arena despite its financial problems, or it moves the team to Quebec City where Pierre-Karl Peladeau is ready to buy the team and play in the Old Colisee until the new arena is ready in 2015.
The cities of Seattle, Kansas City, Markham and Toronto are not feasible options. They don’t have any ownership groups interested in buying an NHL team or their current arena is too outdated.
What will be the league’s decision?
The saga has dragged on since 2009, and the light at the end of the tunnel for the fans of the Coyotes still seems far away.
At this time, Greg Jamison does not have the required equity to purchase the Coyotes and his mysterious investors have yet to be identified. Who wants to invest in a hockey team playing in the desert? Who wants to put money in team that loses $25M to $40M a year in a town where hockey is not really a passion?
Maybe they are waiting for the city to pay them a total of over $400M over 20 years to decide to invest their money in this project?
Will they accept to invest:
- If a referendum on the agreement between Jamison and Glendale might happen?
- If a legal battle on the agreement and the budget is currently happening?
- If the city is heading to bankruptcy et might not be able to pay the arena tenant in a few years down the road?
- If at least six of the next seven members of the City Council, including the mayor, will be replaced next year by council members that seem opposed to this understanding and the current budget?
- If the exit clause before the end of the 20-year contract (moving the team) will cost them $350M?
- If the next season of the NHL is threatened by a lockout?
- If we’re struggling to fill the stands even with 2-for-1 or free ticket offers, or even tickets sold at prices as low as $5 during the regular season?
This week, Glendale officials considered offering up City Hall and the main police station as collateral to obtain a $41 million loan to cover sports-related debts. The city would use the money to cover payments to the National Hockey League and make payments on Camelback Ranch stadium, the city’s spring-training ballpark.
The NHL would really like to see things work in Phoenix, Jamison have the money and solid investors, a city that spends a lot of money without having to go through a legal battle or a citizen protest, great fan support and seats filled every game at Jobing.com arena. All things that are currently missing in the desert. The NHL is stubbornly trying to save this franchise that has lost tons of money every year since its beginnings in Glendale.
With the collective bargaining agreement coming to an end in September 2012, the NHL certainly wants to settle the ownership situation in Glendale in order to avoid distractions as a new CBA will have a major impact on revenue sharing as well as the salary cap.
Does the Board of Governors really want to live through one more year of uncertainties?
Last week, Joe Cobb, a citizen of Glendale, began collecting signatures to place a referendum on the November election ballot in an effort to overturn the Glendale City Council’s decision to grant a 20-year multi-million dollar arena lease agreement to a potential buyer of the Phoenix Coyotes (Jamison).
The preliminary schedule of the LNH has also been published, including the Phoenix Coyotes, despite the uncertainty surrounding the team.
It has been reported that the NHL has drawn more than one schedule in case it has to relocate the Coyotes before next season since the NHL stated several times it didn’t want to own the struggling franchise for another season.
Was the breakfast meeting between Patrick Roy and Gary Bettman in a Pittsburgh hotel on draft day a pure coincidence? That’s the question everyone is asking. However, it is obvious that Gary Bettman clearly intended to be seen by meeting Roy in a prominent place swarmed by journalists. A message directed at Phoenix? If Bettman had wanted to meet Patrick without starting rumours, speculations or a media frenzy, he would have met him in private. Therefore, it makes sense to claim that this meeting had been meticulously planned.
The Bettman and Daly’s new stance in the past week also spoke volumes on this situation.
Bettman was visibly irritated after the Board of Governors’ meeting and he admitted that the NHL was currently unable to sign the agreement with Greg Jamison, because of a lack of money. In a radio interview in Pittsburgh, Gary mentioned the possibility that the Goldwater Institute could with its case, that the city could lose the Coyotes and that the blame would be put on him. He was obviously pissed off about the Goldwater Institute and he did not hide it.
Bill Daly, mentioned other options to consider if the league does not agree with the Jamison group very soon. He had not spoken like this since the NHL had announced it would go begin the negotiation with Greg Jamison last May. He resumed this speech last week.
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You can find the French version of this text here.
***Update*** The NHL has granted a 30-day extension to the City of Glendale to finalize a deal with Greg Jamison as the latter is still looking for financial backers. Stay tuned!