Glendale mayor lacks confidence deal for Coyotes can be struck
GLENDALE, Arizona — The Phoenix Coyotes might be on the move after the upcoming season according to Glendale, Arizona, Mayor Elaine Scruggs.
Scruggs told Phoenix television station KPNX that she's losing faith a new buyer can be found that will keep the team at Jobing.com Arena.
"I don't have a lot of confidence," she told the NBC affiliate on Thursday.
The Coyotes are currently owned by the National Hockey League after it bought the team out of bankruptcy in 2009. At the time the NHL had to battle Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie during contentious bankruptcy court proceedings. Balsillie wanted to buy the team and move it to southern Ontario.
When the NHL bought the club it vowed to try to sell the Coyotes to a person or group who wanted to keep the team in Glendale. However, deals with Chicago Bulls and White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, a group of Canadian and American businessmen called Ice Edge Holdings and Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer all fell through.
"In many ways the City of Glendale has no control over our future," Scruggs told the station. "We have some, but we don't have final control. The decision is with the National Hockey League, the 29 other owners, who they want to be an owner of the team."
All three failed ownership groups had lengthy negotiations with the City of Glendale about the lease agreement at the municipally owned Jobing.com Arena. Hulsizer came the closest to getting a deal done before it fell through last month after pressure from taxpayer watchdog group Goldwater Institute threatened to sue. The group felt the team would be getting illegal subsidies from the city.
Currently, Glendale is paying the NHL up to $25 million U.S. a year to help cover the Coyotes losses until a new owner is found. That deal is set to expire at the end of the current season.
"I have never supported having the team leave, however now I believe that the only realistic thing to do is to take a look — for all of as elected officials — what would life be like with no team in the arena," Scruggs said.
The mayor has not lost all hope and still hopes a deal can be reached, but that hope is dwindling.
"I can't stress enough, I believe that the very best thing that can happen for Glendale's future, for our residents' economic position is that there is that team staying and playing in the arena," she said.
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