Phoenix Coyotes Status Is Still Unclear

Currently battling a playoff threatening mid-season slump, the Phoenix Coyotes remain unsure of their long term future in Glendale. While the staff and team deny the constant pressure and uncertainty negatively affects their performance on the ice, four years of bankruptcy and a bottom of the barrel budget must wear on the humans. The Zambonis remain immune to the stress.

Coyotes suitor Greg Jamison
Greg Jamison – Still Working Hard
(Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE)

Phoenix Coyotes Sale Deadline Missed

The deadline imposed by Glendale on the Greg Jamison led Hockey Partners group expired over six weeks ago and there has been no accurately verifiable progress toward the eventual sale of the Coyotes and a corresponding arena management agreement.

Despite the breathless anticipation of interested observers on both sides of the US northern border of a new regime in Glendale city government cleaning everything up, it’s now very apparent that isn’t the case. Some citizens of Glendale had been decrying the lack of openness and communication provided by the city government led by former mayor Elaine Scruggs and they expected the new mayor and council members to be more “transparent”. That has not happened.

The New Boss

Initial statements from new mayor Weiers upon ascending into office led people to believe his phone was ringing with suitors to manage the city owned arena and purchase the Coyotes. Nothing concrete has yet been made public. After rumors and statements that a Request For Proposal (RFP) was being developed and/or that Beacon Sports Capital Partners would be handling negotiations, the RFP is still nonexistent (and not budgeted for) and Beacon has not been publicly announced.

My calls to the mayor’s office inquiring about “how would one submit a bid for the arena management” were routed to the city manager’s office. Calls to the city manager’s office with the same question resulted in no answer. A phone conversation with Gerald Sheehan of Beacon resulted in a suggestion to speak with the city manager’s office, completing the loop. Being a private citizen with no official standing in the process of course lessens my chances of ever receiving an answer from the parties involved, but the “new council” in Glendale was supposed to be open and forthcoming and the exact opposite has happened.

Open discussion of the Coyotes and management of the arena has ceased. Private executive sessions always have a standard agenda entry for arena management type discussions. Because these sessions are private, and the people that used to routinely leak the content of those discussions are now gone, it’s become strictly guesswork as to the state of negotiations IF there are any. Two protections US citizens have to ensure transparency are open meetings laws and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) records requests. There are several ways around these protections, including executive sessions and the declaration that records are human resources or legal department related and cannot be released.

While Glendale has demanded and received the resignation of City Attorney Craig Tindall and demoted Acting City Manager Horatio Skeete, it seems apparent that (since both men “negotiated” the Jamison deal) changes are afoot in the city government. Yet, the end of the regular NHL season and thus the end of the city agreement with the NHL is approaching rapidly and there is little sense of urgency.

So, the Glendale side of the equation is still obviously a mess.

Potential Coyotes Owners

The rumors of potential Coyotes owners are all over the place, some of them really don’t make any sense or have any apparent basis in fact. One thing is for certain, though, there ARE multiple legitimate groups very interested in pursuing both owning the Coyotes and keeping them in Glendale. There remains an obvious alternative, US Airways Center, for keeping the Coyotes in Arizona should Glendale continue to fiddle about.

Greg Jamison is actively working to gather up his investors and rework the deal with Glendale. According to Glendale CM Gary Sherwood (on the radio), they have discussed a 12 year (instead of 20) year deal at around $12M per year instead of the average $15M that had been approved by the Glendale City Council. Obviously the lockout and several referendum and initiative attempts cost Mr. Jamison some investors and probably the goodwill of others yet we assume he is making good progress toward his goal.

Mikkel Boedker Coyotes
Coyotes have lots of young talent
(Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE)

John Kaites made an announcement through his PR mouthpiece that he was interested in the Coyotes and Glendale. Kaites is a local politico that has been intimately connected with the Reinsdorf family on prior Coyotes propositions. The Reinsdorf family is connected to Beacon Sports Capital Partners, which would legitimize the Beacon rumor and the fact that they are working some sort of deal.

The Ice Edge people are interested as well and were spotted at a recent game in Glendale. Since then, however, former and probably current Ice Edge participant Daryl Jones removed the “almost owner of the Phoenix Coyotes” text from his Twitter page.

The most recent hat thrown in the ring is from none other than local sports agent Terry Bross, who also happens to represent Coyotes Captain Shane Doan. He apparently has garnered the support of local politico and former State Attorney General Grant Woods.

It’s a fact that there are buyers very interested in the Coyotes in Arizona and the groups have significant funds. Whether that translates into a consummated transaction is still, after four years, still very much up in the air.

Stay tuned.