More than two months after my last article on the messy situation in Glendale (The Phoenix Coyotes: Things Get Messier In Glendale), the future of the Phoenix Coyotes remains in limbo in the Arizonian desert. Greg Jamison, the former CEO of the San Jose Sharks who has been interested in buying the Coyotes since August 2011, has yet to officially purchase the team from the NHL despite mentioning that he is ready to sign the arena management fee (AMF) agreement with the City of Glendale to make it official.
The saga has been dragging on and on in the past 18 months without any actual development in regard to the ownership of the hockey team. Back in September 2012, prior to the NHL lockout, there were reports that Jamison had secured enough money to buy the Coyotes and satisfied the NHL’s rumored asking price of $170 million. Then two months later, at the end of November, the Glendale City Council approved a revised 20-year lease deal that would give Jamison $308 million, or approximately $15 million per year, to manage Jobing.com arena conditional on his purchase of the team from the NHL.
The problem is that two months later and only NINE DAYS BEFORE THE EXPIRY OF THE PROPOSED LEASE DEAL on January 31st, 2013, Greg Jamison has yet to buy the team and disclose his investment group and the reason why he does not want to name his investors. Heck, Jamison did not even bother to attend the Coyotes’ home opener on Sunday, game which they lost 6-4 against the Chicago Blackhawks. Still, before Jamison can formally sign the lease with Glendale, he must officially buy the team from the NHL, which he has not done yet.
The good news is that the home opener drew a nice crowd of 17,132 hockey fans, a vast majority of them being Blackhawks fans. The real test will be Wednesday night when the Coyotes host the lowly and Nash-less Columbus Blue Jackets at the Job. The crowd will be a good indicator of what to expect for the rest of the season in Phoenix for week-night games. Tickets for this game are still widely available and you can attend this game for a ridiculous $4.00 or you can watch the game on the low concourse for $16.00 if your budget is bigger.
Even if Greg Jamison manages to purchase the team in the upcoming days/weeks/months, it will be hard for his management group to ever turn a profit in Glendale with such low after-market ticket prices. As for tickets sold at the team’s box office, the club ranks 29th among NHL teams regarding the average ticket price at $36.15 only in ahead of the Dallas Stars. The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Winnipeg Jets lead the league with an average of $123.77 and $98.27 respectively.
What is even more puzzling is that the AMF paid to Greg Jamison is not even on the City Council Meeting’s agenda planned later Tuesday in Glendale, which proves that the newly-elected Mayor Jerry Weiers does not intend to address the situation before the lease expires on January 31st, 2013. What will happen next is still blurry as no one really knows what is going to happen to the NHL-owned team after the shortened NHL season.
Probable scenarios for the Coyotes:
1) Current lease offering expires and the Coyotes are relocated at the end of the season.
2) Greg Jamison finally closes the deal after purchasing the team from the NHL.
3) Glendale’s City Council amends the current AMF and extends it to a later date, allowing Jamison to “gather the required funds”.
4) The NHL, Greg Jamison and Glendale keep quiet and we don’t have any updates on the situation until the end of the season while the league is paying the players and the staff month by month.
Finally, with the ongoing construction of a new arena in Quebec City and the sale of the Sacramento Kings of the NBA to a Seattle-based group led by Chris Hansen, the NHL now has at least two short-term options if it were to relocate the struggling franchise.
Things will certainly be interested in the desert in the next two weeks!