SBD/January 31, 2013/Franchises

Show Me The Money: Sources Say Jamison's Bid To Buy Coyotes Will Fall Short

Jamison negotiated a lease deal that could be extended to another ownership group
Prospective Coyotes Owner Greg Jamison "cannot produce the capital needed to purchase the team from the NHL and as a result" today's deadline to "maintain a critical lease agreement with the City of Glendale will pass without a deal being completed," according to sources cited by Scott Burnside of ESPN.com. A separate group of investors is "prepared to step into the void created by Jamison's failure to produce the money." The question is whether Glendale officials "will agree to extend the lease agreement to a new group given that it was Jamison who negotiated the terms of the highly contentious lease deal." It is "believed that Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers, who took office after the lease agreement was passed by the previous council, would be agreeable to discussing keeping the team in Glendale with this new group, although it's believed he will want to rework the deal to make it more beneficial for the city." Sources said that the new ownership group, which has "arranged for financing that would allow for the purchase of the team from the league at a reported price of $170 million, is hoping to discuss parameters for a new lease agreement in the next few days, perhaps as early" as today. The league has established "no deadlines in relation to selling the team, although it's clear a lease agreement between potential buyers and the city is integral to keeping the team in Arizona." The NHL has owned the team for "almost four years and, barring the emergence of a new suitor willing to start from scratch with the City of Glendale on a lease if things fall apart this week, it would seem inevitable the league will begin the process of relocation" (ESPN.com, 1/30).

SPLITTING HAIRS? In Phoenix, Mike Sunnucks cited officials as saying that Jamison "could have the money and financing to buy the NHL-owned Coyotes, or be very close to that mark." But Jamison could be "squabbling with investment partners on control of the team and decision-making." That would "delay finalizing the purchase and could derail it even if the money is there." There also are "doubts remaining as to whether Jamison and his group have money and financing to buy the team from the NHL." While some sources have said that the money "is there, others say Jamison has two-thirds of the needed cash." Others "insist it is far less than that" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 1/30). The ARIZONA REPUBLIC's Paul Giblin wrote one question that "arises is whether anyone will be around City Hall to receive any news that Jamison has to offer late into the night" (AZCENTRAL.com, 1/30).

COYOTE UGLY: In Phoenix, Sunnucks noted the Coyotes rank last in NHL attendance, "averaging just over 12,250 fans per game through the first four home games of the lockout-shortened season." The team "averaged 12,420 fans last season (worst in the NHL)." The two home games on the first weekends of the season "drew larger crowds" of around 14,800 against the Kings and 17,400 against the Blackhawks. But the Coyotes "routinely draw four-figure crowds for weeknight home games against the likes of" the Predators and Blue Jackets (BIZJOURNALS.com, 1/29).
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