Yesterday David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail wrote a story that the potential sale of the Phoenix Coyotes to Matthew Hulsizer has stalled in part because the reportedly Hulsizer wanted a discount to the $165M the NHL is asking for to cover all their costs in purchasing and operating the team out of bankruptcy court. Later last night Darren Dreger of tsn reported that although nothing had been signed indications of a deal to purchase the team was close and that for the most part an agreement in principle had been agreed to. Obviously this conflicts somewhat with what David Shoalts wrote.
Today NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said
“We’re moving toward an agreement, which we’re hopeful can be concluded relatively quickly. The next step will be proceeding to the NHL ownership approval process. We are hopeful this represents the beginning of the end of this long process, which if successfully completed, will ensure the long-term future of the Coyotes in Glendale.”
So the question is, who are we to believe? I know for a fact that I have to question anything that comes out from the NHL. Remember, it was the NHL that stated that they were about to present former owner Jerry Moyes with a purchase agreement from Jerry Reinsdorf way back in May 2009 when Moyes first took the team into bankruptcy but we now know that at best that offer would be full of conditions relating to concessions Reinsdorf must get from the City of Glendale with respect to the lease agreement. Bill Daly also stated last December that he was confident that an Ice Edge purchase of the Coyotes would occur though clearly that didn’t happen either so forgive me if I don’t put too much stock in what he is saying.
The reality is, the Coyotes will only remain in Phoenix if one of the following things occur:
1. A deep pocketed owner steps up who really wants to keep the team in Phoenix and is willing to lose $15-25 million per year.
2. The City of Glendale steps up and is willing to significantly renegotiate the Coyotes lease agreement or provide significant concessions so that a new owner won’t be in a position to lose $15-25 million per year.
3. Or some combination of #1 and #2.
The reason for this is that the Coyotes cannot survive under the current lease agreement. That’s a fact. There just has not been enough of a fan base and corporate support to sustain the team. So, if the Coyotes are to stay in Phoenix, someone has to be willing to eat those losses. As of yet no deep pocketed owner has stepped up to the plate willing to take on those substantial losses and while the City of Glendale has discussed a variety of options to help out a new owner, none of the concessions they have discussed in the past year and a half have resulted in a new owner stepping up.
Could the Coyotes remain in Phoenix? Sure, but until someone (the city or a potential new owner) steps up and states that they are willing to fund the teams significant losses for the forseeable future I won’t be betting on that to occur.