According to a report by Mike Sunnucks of the Phoenix Business Journal, Greg Jamison, former CEO of the San Jose Sharks and would-be owner of the Phoenix Coyotes, has secured investor commitments for the remaining monies he needed to complete the purchase of the club, and the deal could close soon.
This news comes on the heels of a report last month that Jamison was approximately $20 million short of the purchase price required to gain control of the team from the NHL. The hold-up in financing was attributed in large part to the continued legal challenges that the purchase has faced, with the watchdog group Goldwater Institute leading the charge.
This caution on the part of investors was warranted, because last year Goldwater successfully thwarted Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer’s attempt to buy the Coyotes. A lease deal had been approved in that instance, but the financing for it, which involved taxpayer funded bonds, was questioned by GWI as a violation of the state of Arizona’s “gift clause”.
This hasn’t been a concern with the deal approved for Jamison, which will pay him an arena management fee of between $14 and $17 million, to go along with an option to purchase the arena the team plays in from the city of Glendale at a future date.
The latest chapter in the three-year long saga of the NHL’s ownership of the team could finally be coming to an end with this news, but those folks who have been following the proceedings closely over that time frame are understandably cautious when it comes to any declarations of success or failure in closing a deal. There is still a court date set for August 23rd, when the group Save Glendale Now will appeal a court decision to keep a referendum on a sales tax increase by the city off the November ballot. If the city can clear that hurdle, then there really isn’t anything left to happen besides dotting I’s and crossing T’s.
Another question raised by this new development is how it could potentially affect the prospects of keeping forward Shane Doan in the Valley. Rumors have been swirling about him ever since July 1st came and went without him signing a new deal with the Coyotes. He has maintained all along that his first preference is to stay in town, but with the uncertainty surrounding Jamison’s bid (notably the $20 million shortfall alluded to earlier), he has been exploring his options with other teams. The Rangers, Penguins, Predators, and Red Wings are all rumored to be in on him, and there are even reports of him finally cutting the Coyotes out of the equation.
Naturally, rumor mongers are out in force this time of year, so anything posted has to be taken with a grain of salt, but one would have to wonder if today’s developments on the ownership front have come a little too late to keep Doan with the Coyotes. As is the case with the ownership situation in general, only time will tell as to whether or not the sky is really falling, or if this is just a big scare that the team’s fans will be saved from at the last moment.
James started out for The Hockey Writers covering the Atlanta Thrashers in 2009, and has also covered the Chicago Blackhawks, served as NHL Correspondent, and is now a Managing Editor and the site’s NHL Central Blogger. He also writes for The Golf Writers.