SBD/Issue 236/Franchises

NHL Enters Bid For Coyotes After Reinsdorf Group Withdraws

Reinsdorf Group Declines To Submit
Binding Offer, Deposit By Deadline
The future of the Coyotes shifted again yesterday when the NHL offered to buy the club just as a group headed by Bulls and White Sox Chair Jerry Reinsdorf withdrew its bid. Reinsdorf, Arizona attorney John Kaites and former Nationals President Tony Tavares in a statement said they were unable to meet the court's August 25 deadline to put forward a firm offer for the team. The group blamed an "organized publicity effort" that chilled negotiations with the city of Glendale and said it failed to reach a lease agreement to operate Jobing.com Arena. Because the Reinsdorf group failed to negotiate a lease for the arena, it declined to submit a binding offer and an accompanying $10M deposit in time to meet yesterday's deadline. The departure of the group, which had put forward a $148M offer to keep the team in Glendale, led the NHL to put forward a bid to buy the Coyotes. Terms of the bid weren't available. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the league remains supportive of other offers to buy the team and keep it in Glendale. He added, "We believe this step was necessary at this time in order to best preserve and maximize the value of the Club asset for benefit of the Club's creditors and for the community of Glendale." Daly said the bankruptcy has damaged the club's business and added that the sooner the team exited bankruptcy, the sooner it could restore operations. If the league's offer is approved by the court, Daly said it will "conduct an orderly sale process to a third party buyer outside of bankruptcy" (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal). Bill Walker, a spokesperson for RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie, who seeks to buy the Coyotes and move the team to Hamilton, said the NHL's move "obviously comes as a surprise." Walker: "But we look forward with interest to seeing what the NHL's bid is. What we've said since Day 1 when we launched our bid is all we ask for is the opportunity to get into an auction where all the bids can come forward on a level playing field and may the best bid win" (GLOBE & MAIL, 8/26).

RAZOR'S EDGE: In Toronto, Paul Hunter notes Ice Edge Holdings also "submitted a firm bid believed to be worth" $150M in advance of yesterday's court imposed deadline (TORONTO STAR, 8/26). Research Edge LLC Managing Dir Daryl Jones, who serves as COO of Ice Edge's bid, said, "In the last eight weeks we have worked with the NHL, the city of Glendale and members of the Coyotes organization to develop a solid plan for the successful operation of the Coyotes in Phoenix." Ice Edge officials said that they have "reached an agreement in principal on a repayment plan with the Coyotes' largest secured creditor, SOF Investments." The AP's Bob Baum notes Ice Edge officials also "repeatedly mentioned working" with Coyotes Managing Partner & coach Wayne Gretzky. The NHL and Ice Edge offers are expected to give Coyotes Owner Jerry Moyes "little if anything" in return for money Moyes says he loaned the team, "contending the money was lost equity not a loan" (AP, 8/25).

Writers Call NHL's Move To
Join Coyotes Bidding Desperate
DESPERATE MOVE? In Hamilton, Steve Milton writes there has been "no more desperate move than last night's announcement the league has now joined the bidding" for the Coyotes. Balsillie's reps "had exactly the right instincts when they turned up the heat on the court by announcing that he owns the team by Sept. 14 or he and his $212.5[M] walk," as Balsillie "correctly smelled that the Jerry Reinsdorf bid was in trouble, if not dead" (HAMILTON SPECTATOR, 8/26). In Toronto, Rob Longley writes the NHL's move "smells of desperation," and the tactic is "curious given the reported financial struggles of a number of its franchises" (TORONTO SUN, 8/26). YAHOO SPORTS' Greg Wyshynski wrote, "This is public relations torment for the NHL. Not only is it in the fight without a surrogate like Reinsdorf, but now it's fighting to save the team that no one wanted" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/25). In Winnipeg, Paul Friesen writes, "It's becoming painfully obvious -- surprise, surprise -- that there aren't any real bids for a team that loses tens of millions of dollars a year" (WINNIPEG SUN, 8/26). The NATIONAL POST's Bruce Arthur writes the "truth is that nobody else was foolish enough to own and operate the team in Glendale, and the NHL is desperate to keep it out of the hands" of Balsillie. But to do that, the NHL "will have to pay." Ultimately, the NHL "loses no matter what" (NATIONAL POST, 8/26).

TWO FOR ONE: Balsillie's attorney Richard Rodier in a filing yesterday said that Balsillie "would be 'delighted' to share" Copps Coliseum in Hamilton with the AHL Bulldogs this season. Rodier said that there are "only six conflicting dates" between the franchises. Rodier: "My expectation is that they can be easily resolved." But Bulldogs President Glenn Stanford said of the proposal, "It's the first we've heard of it" (HAMILTON SPECTATOR, 8/26).

POTENTIAL LIFELINE? An El Mirage, Arizona, city spokesperson said that the city is "looking at a pitch from developers of Main Street, the shopping and dining complex envisioned around Glendale's spring training facility, that would extend loans for local manufacturing and renewable energy projects as well as" the Coyotes. Scottsdale-based HB Equities "recently approached the city with the idea, though exactly how the developer plans to help the Coyotes is unclear" (AZCENTRAL.com, 8/25).

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