SBD/July 3, 2013/FranchisesPrint All
The Glendale City Council by a 4-3 vote gave the Coyotes a "new lease on life, approving a complicated, multimillion-dollar deal Tuesday night that pays the hockey team to stay at Jobing.com Arena for at least five years," according to a front-page piece by Paul Giblin of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. NHL execs still have to "give formal approval" to IceArizona, a new partnership for the prospective ownership group known as Renaissance Sports & Entertainment, to "complete their purchase of the team, but that’s expected to be just a formality." The group has "one month to get that done." Council member Manny Martinez said that he "supported the deal after the potential team buyer offered more financial guarantees to the city, including a partnership with a successful events-management firm and repayment under certain circumstances if team revenue projections don’t pan out." Giblin reports just hours "before the council meeting started, IceArizona executives announced that they had partnered with Global Spectrum." The announcement likely was an "effort to assure council members of the group’s ability to book non-hockey acts and attract arena visitors, bolstering confidence in revenue projections for the city." IceArizona attorney Nick Wood at the meeting "unveiled a plan to offer the city some guarantees on the revenue streams it promised the city." If the team were to "exercise an out-clause after five years, the buyers group would make the city whole on any losses stemming from the deal that reach beyond" $6M (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 7/3).
TURNING POINT: The AP's John Marshall writes the Coyotes "took a big step toward stability" with the vote. IceArizona may have "swung the vote in its favor earlier in the day when it announced" the partnership with Global Spectrum. The group must "finalize its lease agreement with Glendale and its purchase of the team by Aug. 5." The council meeting "attracted hundreds of Coyotes fans and Glendale residents, who showed their pleasure or displeasure in the chambers by putting their thumbs up and down." An overflow crowd downstairs in the employee lounge "also cheered and booed at a closed-circuit monitor." The meeting was attended by Coyotes GM Don Maloney and Coyotes D Derek Morris, along with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, who "received a rare standing ovation as they entered the chambers." IceArizona accepted "numerous revisions to an initial draft of the lease agreement, including a $50,000 payment to the city if the Coyotes play less than 41 games, but stood firm on an out clause for the city" (AP, 7/3). FOXSPORTSARIZONA.com's Craig Morgan wrote the city will pay IceArizona $15M "per year over 15 years in exchange for a number of revenue streams that the new owners believe will cover all of Glendale’s costs." The council also amended the deal "just before the vote to remove the city’s request for a five-year out clause -- a clause that would have killed the deal" since neither IceArizona's lenders nor the NHL "would have accepted it" (FOXSPORTSARIZONA.com, 7/2). In Seattle, Jose Miguel Romero reports Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers favored the out clause in case the city's "financial losses mount." After cheers for Bettman, who "spoke briefly, and more cheers" for Morris, the league and ownership group "began to make its case." IceArizona Principal Anthony LeBlanc said, "We are here for the longterm" (SEATTLE TIMES, 7/3).
PHOENIX OUT, ARIZONA IN: CBSSPORTS.com's Brian Stubits notes one thing that "dies is Phoenix being attached" to the Coyotes name, as from "here on out, they will be the Arizona Coyotes." The out clause in the deal allows for IceArizona "to relocate the franchise after five years if its debt totals" $50M or more. The belief is that with "stable ownership, that won't be an issue" (CBSSPORTS.com, 7/3). ESPN.com's Scott Burnside writes, "For anyone who has followed this tortured saga the past four years, a great and loud 'hallelujah' rose up when the council finally tallied its votes." For the Coyotes, it is "at long last a beginning." Because now "we’re all going to find out whether this will work" (ESPN.com, 7/3). In Toronto, Mike Zeisberger wonders, "Will a simple name change translate into a different culture, more fans and higher revenues? We’re about to find out" (TORONTO SUN, 7/3). In Phoenix, Paola Boivin before the vote wrote to the City Council, "With the utmost respect, I ask you to take a leap of faith. Vote yes. Keep the Coyotes in Glendale" (AZCENTRAL.com, 7/2).
Seven Lakers reps and officials from two affiliates met with free agent C Dwight Howard and his agents on Tuesday, "focusing on ways for Howard to increase his brand in the second-largest U.S. city," according to Mike Bresnahan of the L.A. TIMES. The Lakers also let Howard "know they would build around him on the court during the duration" of a potential five-year contract. The meeting included Lakers Senior VP/Business Operations Tim Harris, as well as AEG execs, one of whom said that Howard "could use some of AEG's resources to further his brand." Time Warner Cable SportsNet execs also attended, and "their theme" was TWC "wouldn't have struck a 25-year, $5-billion deal with the Lakers last year if the cable company didn't believe in the power and relevancy of the franchise." Howard "attended the meeting with his agents," Lagardere Unlimited Basketball President Dan Fegan and Relativity Sports CEO and Relativity Media co-COO Happy Walters (L.A. TIMES, 7/3). In N.Y., Mitch Lawrence noted TWC and Howard reportedly "have had 'preliminary' talks about Howard having his own TV show" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/3).
USL President Tim Holt on Tuesday officially awarded a franchise to Oklahoma City, and ownership group Prodigal LLC believes that with "its experience combined with rabid fan support of the USL team, within the next eight to 10 years it could be on a level to get an MLS team in Oklahoma City," according to Rhiannon Walker of the OKLAHOMAN. Part of Prodigal's attraction to USL PRO was its "recent joint venture" with MLS. USL PRO in '13 began "a multiyear partnership with MLS to strengthen the competition in both leagues." Prodigal Senior Exec VP/New Business Development John Allgood said, "There is a demographic of fan that wants soccer in Oklahoma City, and ... we're going to be on the right path to get an MLS team." He added, "Four of the five teams that have gone in the MLS have come from a USL PRO franchise, and there's a formal agreement that allows that to happen. So we think, and I know the Greater Oklahoma City Sports Consortium ... they feel like that USL PRO is the best opportunity to get to an MLS franchise." Walker notes the "relationship between Prodigal and the USL has been three years in the making." Prodigal "also runs" the AHL Oklahoma City Barons. Prodigal in the next few months will "begin looking into an affiliation partnership with" MLS franchises FC Dallas, Dynamo and Sporting KC. Prodigal is "currently in negotiations with several interested groups for a venue." The venue would "need to hold at least 3,000 patrons, but Prodigal is hoping to house between 7,000 and 8,000 fans" (OKLAHOMAN, 7/3).
TEST RUN: In Las Vegas, Paul Delos Santos noted the two "fiercest rivals in Mexican soccer will play at Sam Boyd Stadium this week in a game that is expected to draw 20,000 fans -- and, more importantly, show whether Las Vegas can muster enough enthusiasm to host its own" MLS team. There is a "strong fan base in Las Vegas, due partly to a Hispanic community that embraces soccer." But even though the league "recently expanded to 20 teams, there have been no discussions of a team coming to Las Vegas." When it comes to "sanctioning new teams, MLS focuses on three major factors: How fans in a prospective league city respond -- in ticket sales and TV ratings -- to exhibition contests, the interest of an ownership group savvy in sports entertainment and the quality of a venue." Las Vegas has "struggled to find owners interested in bringing a team to the city, as professional franchises are high-risk ventures." As for building a soccer stadium, "no such proposal has surfaced in Las Vegas." Two proposed arena project developers have "expressed interest in hosting an MLS team." ESPN Deportes Las Vegas Program Dir Alvaro Puentes said that he "had no doubt the city could support a franchise." Puentes said that the "local Hispanic community would provide the core fan base that a team would need to take root here." Nevada has the "14th largest Hispanic population in the country." Puentes: "We are ready for an MLS team in town" (LAS VEGAS SUN, 7/1).