SBD/June 28, 2013/Franchises

Gary Bettman Says Future Of Coyotes Is Up To Glendale City Council

Bettman said the NHL has numerous options if the Coyotes must relocate
The financial "burdens that come with keeping" the Coyotes in Glendale would be shared by local "taxpayers, the prospective owners of the franchise and hockey fans," according to a draft deal cited by Paul Giblin of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. The deal "calls for the city to pay the prospective team owners an arena-management fee" of $15M annually, which is "far more than city officials had hoped to pay." IceArizona, a new partnership for the prospective ownership group known as Renaissance Sports & Entertainment, "offered to soften the financial outlay by reimbursing the city with millions of dollars derived largely from fees collected from hockey fans who attend games." A vote on Tuesday is "expected to seal the fate of the Coyotes in Glendale." NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on Thursday said, “If the council doesn’t approve it so that this transaction can close, I don’t think the Coyotes will be playing there anymore." Glendale City Council member Gary Sherwood said, "Do we have the votes to pass it Tuesday? I don’t know. I hope we do, but I’m not sure." Giblin notes deal points released by city officials state if the contract is approved, Glendale will pay IceArizona $15M a year to "manage the arena, while IceArizona will reimburse the city an estimated" $6.72M. The draft agreement calls for the Coyotes to "play at the arena for 15 years, but the prospective team owners could leave if their cumulative losses reach" $50M or more for any reason after five years. Coyotes attorney Nick Wood said that the team’s "projected reimbursements are based on 12,630 fans attending 41 regular-season hockey games a year, which excludes preseason and playoff games." Meanwhile, the original four investors will "remain as Renaissance and will serve as the managing partners of IceArizona, which will include a broader group of investors" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 6/28).

EXPLORING OPTIONS: The CP's Stephen Whyno noted Bettman "explained that the NHL has 'lots of options' if the Coyotes must relocate, even if that plan B hasn't yet been ironed out." Bettman: "I find it difficult to conceive of why, if the council turns this down, we would want to keep the team in Glendale any longer. And so we will then, if they turn it down, have to deal with the possibilities and the options that will be available to us, and they are numerous." NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly "didn't want to get into specific cities that could get the Coyotes if keeping the team in Glendale doesn't work out." Asked specifically about Seattle's KeyArena, he said that it could "house an NHL team." Asked about Quebec City being an option, Daly said, "I wouldn't rule it out." He added, "We tried to be clear that obviously there are a number of alternatives, and we have to decide which one is best for us in the short term." Whyno noted the "short term" would begin in '13-14. Bettman and Daly "confirmed there is enough time to move the Coyotes to another city without them playing a lame-duck season in Glendale" (CP, 6/27).
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