One of two groups interested in purchasing the Phoenix Coyotes is threatening to pull out of the bidding.
Connecticut-based Ice Edge Holdings said Thursday that it has been frustrated in its efforts to work out a lease deal with the City of Glendale and Jobing.com Arena. And as a result, the group’s $160-million US proposal to purchase the team from the National Hockey League could be off the table.
“The city may leave us no choice,” Ice Edge CEO Daryl Jones told Canwest News Service in an e-mail. “Their most recent proposal takes a number of steps back from prior agreements we have had with them.”
The City of Glendale set a Friday deadline for potential bidders, which at this point include Ice Edge and Jerry Reinsdorf, the owner of baseball’s Chicago White Sox and basketball’s Chicago Bulls, to sign a memorandum of understanding.
Former Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes cited a poor lease deal with the city as part of the team’s lack of financial success in the desert, and Ice Edge has been consistent in its plea for the need of a new arena lease.
Reinsdorf reportedly wants an option to move the franchise, based on how the team performs financially in coming years.
The NHL purchased the team out of bankruptcy late last year.
“We believe that Glendale is playing a dangerous game of poker,” said Jones. “At the end of the day, Ice Edge doesn’t have to own this team, or any team. We make investments with the objective in generating an appropriate return. While we have become very passionate about supporting the fine hockey fans of Phoenix, a bad deal is a bad deal, and no amount of brinkmanship will lead us into signing a bad deal.”
In addition to a new lease, the Ice Edge group was also looking at playing several ‘home’ games in Saskatoon, as a way to build revenue. Ice Edge has also been adamant in its desire to keep the franchise in Arizona.
“The National Hockey League has done an extraordinary job of supporting this franchise after years of horrific business management, and we applaud them in their effort to defend this market,” said Jones. “This season, both on the ice and off the ice, shows us that NHL hockey can succeed in Phoenix. It is up to the City of Glendale to decide whether they want it to continue to succeed.”
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Shane Doan #19 of the Phoenix Coyotes celebrates with teammates Wojtek Wolski #86, Keith Yandle #3 and Zbynek Michalek #4 after Doan scored a third period goal against the Nashville Predators during the NHL game at Jobing.com Arena on April 7, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona.
Photograph by: Getty, Getty