SBD/August 6, 2013/Franchises

New Coyotes Owners Insist Franchise Won't Relocate; Rebrand Set For '14-15 Season?

With the sale finalized, the team will likely rebrand as the Arizona Coyotes
The NHL yesterday completed the sale of the Coyotes to IceArizona, led by George Gosbee and Anthony LeBlanc, "ending a four-year saga during which the league operated the team as an ever-changing cast of potential buyers came and went," according to a front-page piece Paul Giblin of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. IceArizona's managing partner Renaissance Sports & Entertainment previously "reached a 15-year agreement with Glendale to keep the team at Jobing.com Arena." The $170M sale, which was approved by the NHL BOG, "brought to conclusion a fluctuating story line that featured politics, financial hurdles and constant threats of relocation." Gosbee will serve as Coyotes Chair & Governor, and LeBlanc will "serve as alternate governor and chief executive." The new owners plan to "leave the hockey operations in the hands of the team executives who managed the club under the NHL's ownership." Gosbee and LeBlanc "vowed to take a more hands-on approach to the business side of the franchise" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 8/6). LeBlanc yesterday said, "This was an incredibly complicated deal that didn't get wrapped up quite literally until 8 o'clock this morning after pretty much a full weekend of working on it going through the night." The CP's Stephen Whyno noted LeBlanc, Gosbee and nine other investors are "jumping in to a long process that includes adding staff on the business side and trying to sell tickets to grow the Coyotes' reach." Part of the effort includes a "name change to the Arizona Coyotes, likely effective" for the '14-15 season. LeBlanc: "Unfortunately it’s very difficult for people to accept that hockey can be successful in a non-traditional market. But we like to point to markets like San Jose and Dallas, even in the Carolinas, where hockey has really thrived. We feel that the same will happen here." Gosbee said, "There’s a strong, tight-knit ownership group here. Everybody really knows of each other" (CP, 8/5).

COYOTES INVESTORS
NAME TITLE
Anthony LeBlanc RSE Principal
George Gosbee AltaCorp Capital Chair & CEO
Scott Saxberg Crescent Point Energy President & CEO
Craig Stewart RMP Energy Exec Chair
W. David Duckett Plains Midtsream Canada President
Gary Drummond Pine Cliff Energy Corporate Dir
Bill Dutton Former Upton Resources Chair
Avik Dey Remvest Energy Partners President & CEO
Robert Gwin Anadarko Petroleum Corp. CFO, Exec President
Daryl Jones Hedgeye Risk Management Dir Of research
Richard Walter

RAISING ARIZONA: FOX SPORTS ARIZONA's Craig Morgan noted critics of the deal point to RSE's five-year out clause "it can exercise if its losses should equal or exceed" $50M over that span. However, Gosbee said that predictions the franchise could relocate "don't concern him." Gosbee: "Nobody in my group talks about moving or where we would move. Half the guys have financial or real estate interests in Arizona, and some are moving or retiring down there." He added that he "plans to buy a home in the Valley" (FOXSPORTSARIZONA.com, 8/5). In Edmonton, Jim Matheson wrote the new Coyotes owners "hope to break even by year two and start making money after that" (EDMONTONJOURNAL.com, 8/5).

CRYSTAL BALL: In Ottawa, Bruce Garrioch writes the sale "came in the nick of time for NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who was getting heat from some governors to get a deal done." Bettman was "bound and determined to keep the franchise in Arizona" because of the large Phoenix TV market. The new owners yesterday posted a video on the team's website with the words “Here to Stay," which may be due to the fanbase "having [a] hard time believing the Coyotes will last in Phoenix" (OTTAWA SUN, 8/6). SPORTING NEWS' Sean Gentille wrote under the header, "Phoenix Coyotes Have Owners -- Now, Do They Have Fans?" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 8/5). In New Jersey, Andrew Gross writes yesterday was a "good day for the NHL" as the Coyotes "finally know where they’ll be playing for the foreseeable future." While the deal keeps the Coyotes from relocating, "the time is right for the NHL to expand, something it hasn't done since 2000." Seattle "shouldn't have to wait much longer" (Bergen RECORD, 8/6).
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