No one is lighting the lamp yet in Seattle regarding the fate of the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes. The Glendale, AZ., City Council, which has to decide whether to continue to subsidize the franchise for up to $15 million annually, met in executive session for 3½ hours Friday but came to no decision except to vote in a public forum no later than July 2.
City officials want to release details of a draft proposal with the team’s prospective owners early next week, then vote, Glendale spokeswoman Julie Watters told the Arizona Republic.
If a deal cannot be struck, Seattle mayor Mike McGinn has said he had conversations with a separate set of buyers — the team has been owned by the NHL for four years — to buy the team for $220 million for the purpose of moving the club immediately to Seattle for two years in KeyArena until Chris Hansen completes his plan for building a basketball/hockey arena in SoDo. McGinn emphasized that Seattle is “Plan B” and that Glendale gets first shot.
The Coyotes’ immediate pursuers, Renaissance Sports & Entertainment, has offered $170 million to the NHL to keep the club in the Phoenix suburb, but they also want the city’s annual subsidy guaranteed to make it easier to borrow money.
A majority of the council — six members plus the mayor — must vote to accept the deal for the 17,125-seat Jobing.com Arena, the team’s home for the past 10 years. The Coyotes have been in the market since 1996, but went bankrupt in 2009, when the league purchased it.
Renaissance has proposed giving the city cuts of ticket surcharges, parking and other fees that would kick back some of the $15 million. One council member, Norma Alvarez, is on the record as opposing the subsidy. The other electeds evaded reporters Friday.
“At this point, we are continuing our negotiations with the Renaissance group and we expect that early next week we will have some sort of a statement or a press release,” Watters said. “We’re also hopeful that at that time, we can discuss everything in more specific details, such as deal points.”
Unlike the recent episode in Sacramento for the NBA Kings, when electeds such as mayor Kevin Johnson openly discussed the city’s progress toward keeping the team, Glendale officials are meeting in executive session. The NHL has told the buyers to shut up.
The NHL Board of Governors meets Thursday, and wanted to vote on the Glendale proposal. But if progress is being made, the July 2 has been reported by multiple media outlets to be acceptable to owners.