SBD/Issue 238/Franchises

Bill Daly Expresses Urgency With Coyotes' Jobing.com Arena Lease

Coyotes' Future At Glendale
Arena In Question
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the Coyotes' lease agreement with Glendale for Jobing.com Arena needs to be "resolved or not by the end of this calendar year," according to Bob Baum of the AP. The NHL plans to "quickly engage in talks over a new lease agreement with the city of Glendale" if the league wins the September 10 auction for the team. Fellow bidding group Ice Edge Holdings' bid for the team is "contingent on reaching" a lease agreement, which "must happen by the end of next week." Ice Edge CEO Anthony LeBlanc: "The risk is if we don't finalize a deal with the city we simply can't move forward with the auction." Meanwhile, Daly when asked if Bulls and White Sox Chair Jerry Reinsdorf, who withdrew his bid earlier this week, could ultimately buy the club from the NHL, said, "I wouldn't rule anybody out." Daly blamed Coyotes Owner Jerry Moyes and RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie for the "lack of local bidders," saying that the two have "'taken every opportunity to make it as difficult as possible' for potential buyers who would keep the franchise in Arizona." Daly claims that the franchise's value "has been eroded by the bankruptcy process." Daly said that if Balsillie wins the September 10 auction, the NHL will "immediately appeal and seek a stay to halt the sale" (AP, 8/27).

LOOKING CLOSER AT THE BIDS: In Phoenix, Carrie Watters reports the NHL's bid for the Coyotes "looks to pay all creditors," except Moyes and Managing Partner & coach Wayne Gretzky, who is set to earn $6.5M next season. Daly said, "The magnitude of (Gretzky's) contract is not the type of contract we should be assuming on behalf of future owners." Daly could not confirm if Gretzky would stay on as coach (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 8/28). Meanwhile, in Toronto, Paul Hunter notes while Balsillie's $212.5M offer for the Coyotes "appears to easily top" the NHL's $140M bid and Ice Edge's $150M proposal, "it is not that clear-cut." Daly said, "The value of Balsillie's bid is somewhat misleading. It's not an apples-to-apples comparison, because if it is contingent on the club relocating, it results in significant and very costly claims from most of the club's current vendors, creditors and business partners -- including the city of Glendale -- against the estate. Those claims don't exist if the team stays local. So at the end of the day, we believe the value of the two bids are very comparable" (TORONTO STAR, 8/28).

SPIN MOVE: In Hamilton, Scott Radley writes the NHL's acknowledgment that the Coyotes may relocate was "enough to cause some people to wonder if the league was finally waving a white flag," especially considering "how strongly the league's gatekeepers have been clinging to the It-Must-Stay-In-Arizona position" (HAMILTON SPECTATOR, 8/28). SI.com's Jim Kelley wrote this bankruptcy proceeding "has exposed a seamy underside of the NHL" that prospective partners are "likely to want to keep at a considerable distance" (SI.com, 8/27). In Winnipeg, Ted Wyman said the NHL is "putting an incredible amount of roadblocks up, but to what end? It just seems so silly to be considering keeping this team in Phoenix." The WINNIPEG SUN's Kirk Penton noted, "If you're going to say anything nice about [NHL Commissioner Gary] Bettman it's that he's sticking to what he believes in, and he still believes that it's going to work down there" (WINNIPEGSUN.com, 8/27). In Toronto, Damien Cox wrote the NHL's position on the Coyotes has "never been as preposterous as some would believe." The league "wants a team in that large U.S. market, or more specifically, believes that a successful, efficiently run club would do just fine and be of benefit to the league." But the NHL's effort to buy the Coyotes and sell the team to a third party "for a profit is such an extreme manipulation of the process" (THESTAR.com, 8/27).

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