Source: Group closing in on deal to buy Coyotes
APR 29, 2013 3:51p ET
Coyotes general manager Don Maloney noted in his postmortem press conference Sunday that things had gone deathly silent on the ownership front — by the NHL’s design.
That has been mostly true for the last three weeks as the league has attempted to finalize a deal with a buyer to push this process to its next step while keeping a gag order on all potential buyers.
But there are encouraging signs for Coyotes fans about the future of this franchise. According to a person who has seen the Renaissance Sports and Entertainment business plan, it appears the group’s sole focus is on turning the team around financially and keeping it in Glendale for the long term.
Renaissance Sports and Entertainment is the company formed by prospective buyers George Gosbee, Anthony LeBlanc and their two partners, Daryl Jones and Avik Dey (Ice Edge Holdings is defunct despite continued references to it in media accounts).
According to the source, the business plan is extensive and focuses on increasing ticket sales, season tickets, corporate sponsorships, suites, realigned partnerships and proper expense management to achieve break-even status within the early years of ownership; per a source familiar with documents, the Coyotes lost between $10 and $15 million last season.
The group would also be aided by added provisions in the league’s new collective bargaining agreement that help teams in emerging markets by removing some of the revenue sharing restrictions placed on them in the previous plans.
The source, who has seen the plan, indicated that a purchase agreement between the league and Renaissance is expected soon – perhaps within the next week – at which point the group would approach the City of Glendale about an arena management deal that would keep the team in Glendale for the long term.
It’s difficult to gauge how real the possibility of an announcement next week is, especially since at least two other ownership groups still believe they are in the running, including Darin Pastor’s group and Greg Jamison’s (and perhaps Matthew Hulsizer’s).
In an interview with sportsnet.com on Monday, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed that the league is dealing with Gosbee and LeBlanc, but he did not name the group as the sole possibility.
"There’s no doubt that we’re dealing with Mr. Gosbee and Mr. LeBlanc and trying to work through and get to a deal with them, but there are other interested people who we’re working with at the same time as well," Daly said. "Nobody has exclusivity here."
It’s also difficult to tell if the timeline set for the purchase agreement is real given the numerous delays that have occurred in this process. One deadline that appears concrete is a May 24 date for arena management bids and ideas to Glendale.
The city hired Massachusetts-based sports investment firm Beacon Sports Capital Partners to accept bids from potential Jobing.com Arena managers.
Arena managers could include Coyotes ownership groups or third parties. The Glendale City Council approved a deal last year in connection with Jamison’s failed bid to buy the team that would have paid Jamison an average of $15 million a year over 20 years.
Recent Glendale budget documents have used a $6 million arena management fee as a placeholder, but sources indicate the city might be willing to go as high as $10 or $12 million.
Gosbee and LeBlanc took in Friday’s home finale against the Avalanche from a suite just a few doors down from where Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers was sitting, but both declined comment regarding the status of their potential purchase or rumors that a deal is imminent.