SBD/June 13, 2013/Franchises

Bettman Says Coyotes Solution Could Come By End Of June; Prefers To Keep Team In Glendale

NHL execs reportedly would prefer to keep the Coyotes in Glendale
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman yesterday during his state of the league address hinted that the future of the Coyotes "could be decided by the end of June," but he "refused to provide a drop-dead date" for the decision, according to Kevin Allen of USA TODAY. Bettman said, "There is a Board of Governors meeting on June 27 and a (Glendale) City Council meeting on June 25. Stuff is going to happen." NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly "indicated the plan was to release a schedule in July." Bettman said that the NHL "prefers to keep the team in Glendale and believes the franchise would be viable with proper ownership." But he said that the league is "running out of time." He added that he "doesn't like franchise relocation because of the impact it has on fans, cities and businesses that have supported the team" (USA TODAY, 6/13). Daly said that if "nothing was resolved soon, 'it certainly means that it’s possible that the team won’t play there next year.'" Bettman said that he was "worried that the city of Glendale would have to 'board up' Jobing.com Arena if the Coyotes moved." He added that the "phone had been ringing from other cities eager to host a relocated Coyotes club, although he declined to confirm whether Quebec City and Seattle, believed to be the strongest candidates, were among them" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/13). Meanwhile, FOXSPORTSARIZONA.com's A.J. Perez noted Bettman "didn’t deny that the Coyotes ... could go on hiatus." Bettman said, “There are a myriad of options. Obviously we'll have lots of choices, options and decisions. At the time, if we get to that point, and hopefully we won't, then we'll focus on which one is the best" (FOXSPORTSARIZONA.com, 6/12).

EXPLORING OTHER OPTIONS: THE HOCKEY NEWS' Ken Campbell wrote the league would "prefer to keep the team in Glendale for reasons that almost nobody can fathom, but the behind-the-scenes work that could see the Coyotes move is furious at the moment." Unless AltaCorpCapital Chair & CEO and potential Coyotes owner George Gosbee can "come up with a deal that will pay them somewhere in the neighborhood of $15 million a year from a city that is deeply in debt, the Coyotes will move in time for the 2013-14 season." If the Coyotes move, "speculation is they will relocate to Seattle for a variety of reasons." Moving to Seattle would "keep the Coyotes in the west and maintain the integrity of realignment." It also would "give the NHL an opportunity to get a foothold" in a potential $490M arena that was going to be built in Seattle before the city missed out on the NBA Kings. Speculation is that if Gosbee’s group "cannot come up with a suitable deal to keep the Coyotes in Glendale, Seattle then becomes a viable option." The team would "play out of the antiquated Key Arena in Seattle until the new arena is built." It would not be the "ideal situation, but it’s the best option at the moment." However, a source said that there are a "couple of kinks in that plan." The first is that Key Arena has "taken out its ice-making equipment and cemented over the chilling system in the floor." That would "leave the Tacoma Dome, which is about 30 miles south of Seattle, as a possibility." The other is that hedge fund manager Chris Hansen, who is "building the new arena, is not a hockey fan" (THEHOCKEYNEWS.com, 6/12).

TAKING BIDS: In Phoenix, Caitlin McGlade reports four bidders have "submitted proposals to manage Jobing.com Arena, a task that historically has been handled by the venue’s anchor tenant," the Coyotes. The bidders include a "couple of smaller, local events companies and two subsidiaries of other Valley sports teams," the NFL Cardinals and Suns. However, if city officials "struck an arena-management deal with a non-hockey firm, the city likely would lose the Coyotes, who have played at" the $220M arena since it opened in '03. Potential Coyotes owners, including Renaissance Sports & Entertainment, the NHL's "most recent selected buyer of the team, have sought arena management and the multimillion-dollar payment from the city that comes with it." The City Council is "expected to vote on an arena-management contract June 25, although the mayor and others this week said it isn’t a hard and fast deadline" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 6/13). Also in Phoenix, Paul Giblin reported Glendale City Council members "maneuvered around the state’s Open Meeting Law last week when they privately met" with NHL execs and potential buyers of the Coyotes who "outlined their desire to use and manage Jobing.com Arena" (AZCENTRAL.com, 6/12).
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