Coyotes update: Silence doesn’t equate to inactivity
It was a quiet week on the Coyotes ownership front, but that was by design.
Here’s what we know:
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Glendale acting city manager Dick Bowers met with prospective buyer Anthony LeBlanc, one of the principals in Rennaisance Sports and Entertainment, on Wednesday. The two discussed the framework of a potential arena lease agreement.
Neither LeBlanc nor Bowers spoke after the meeting, but Glendale councilmember Gary Sherwood spoke to Bowers on Wednesday and “saw it as fairly positive from our brief discussion on the subject.” Sherwood later added that Bowers was feeling even more positive about the negotiations on Friday.
LeBlanc was expected to put his ideas to paper by early next week, allowing Bowers a chance to review them and discuss them with council members. Sherwood also said Bowers plans to review the four arena-management bids received by Beacon Sports Capital Partners for comparison’s sake on Monday.
In the meantime, Sherwood said he has “collected about as much data as I think makes sense” on the cost of managing the arena, and will now take some time to analyze and update it before presenting it the council.
“Much of this shows projections with the team leaving as opposed to our costs/revenue with it staying,” he wrote in an email, adding that he is also examining “potential revenue streams” and “city predicted increases to revenue.”
As has been previously reported, Glendale has $6 million budgeted for the arena, while RSE needs between $13 million and $15 million annually. The two sides are working through a plan to bridge that gap, and Bowers was also expected to contact commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly to find out why the NHL has not claimed a $20 million payment from Glendale that is sitting in escrow for last season’s arena management. (Sherwood said Glendale did not pay the NHL anything for the current lockout-abbreviated season.)
Bowers wants to know if the NHL plans to forgive the payment, use it to help bridge the arena-management gap between the city and RSE, or if there is another reason the league has not claimed the money.
Multiple sources have indicated that having a deal in place by mid-June is imperative to the NHL. Glendale has a workshop scheduled for June 18 and another council meeting on June 25, at which point it would vote on the deal. That scenario is acceptable to the league so long as it is confident a deal is coming.
If it looks as if talks are faltering, however, the league still considers relocation a possibility despite the fact that the calendar has already turned to June. Oft-mentioned relocation sites such as Kansas City and Quebec are still rumored in that scenario (as well as others), but it is believed that Quebec would be a last resort if all other options fail. Sources say commissioner Gary Bettman would still prefer to keep Quebec as an expansion site, affording the league’s owners a lucrative expansion fee.
There is some urgency on Glendale’s part, as well, because July 1 is the date the city has said a new arena manager will assume its duties. The fiscal year for Glendale begins July 1.
Coach Dave Tippett’s contract also expires on June 30, and without him under contract, it will be difficult for the Coyotes to begin negotiations with their own, unrestricted free agents, including Mike Smith and Boyd Gordon.
Tippett did not expect any news this week or early next week regarding his contract. He caught a flight to Minnesota on Friday to escape the heat for a few days and is not expected back in the Valley until Wednesday.
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