SBD/July 3, 2013/Franchises

Glendale Votes To Approve Coyotes Arena Lease, Keeping Team In Town

IceArizona's partnership with Global Spectrum may have been a turning point
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).
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