Q&A with Coyotes majority owner Andrew Barroway
GLENDALE Ariz. — Andrew Barroway burst onto the scene three months ago when the New York Post reported he was pursuing a majority stake in the Coyotes. But he remained out of the spotlight until the deal was completed Wednesday.
The Coyotes on Friday formally introduced their new majority owner, chairman and governor at a press conference at Gila River Arena. While Barroway’s arrival won’t have an immediate impact on the on-ice product, he believes the deal gives the team more financial stability and flexibility.
"We want to build this right way; the smart way," he said. "That’s a long-term process."
Coyotes fans that are hoping the team spends lavishly at the trade deadline or in free agency this summer may be disappointed. With the team already 13 points out of the playoffs before Friday’s games, there will be no quick fixes. The free-agent pool this summer is also considered weak, so fans may have to accept a slower process if the Coyotes do not identify players that fit their future plans this summer.
FOX Sports Arizona sat down with Barroway after Friday’s press conference to examine the future of the franchise — and to get the answers to all those questions fans have been dying to ask the past three months.
What took you so long?
Barroway: (laughs) "This is actually the timeline you expect. It’s a long and complicated process because it’s a complicated transaction. I’m just happy we got it done and I’m happy we got it done before the end of the year which was good, but I don’t consider this to be anything out of the ordinary in terms of timing."
How did you become interested in the Coyotes and why?
Barroway: "I think it was late September or early October. I was introduced to (Coyotes president and CEO) Anthony (LeBlanc) through our bankers. We got along great and I thought it was a great opportunity. I think hockey is and can continue to be successful here in the Valley. Anthony and (alternate governor) George (Gosbee) were just a great bunch of guys. It was just a nice, natural fit."
Why would you want to buy a team that hasn’t made money since it arrived in the Valley in 1996?
Barroway: "I didn’t do the deal to make money. Let me say that first. I’ve always been a huge sports fan and hockey fan. This was a dream since childhood. But having said that, you want the deal to be on strong financial footing. This team is heading in that direction. Corporate sales are up. Ticket sales are up. Everything is trending in the right direction and in the National Hockey League overall, everything is trending up, too so I think we’re going to get there. We also have a strong partnership with the City of Glendale. I just saw it as a good investment for me to get in and work with people I like."
How active an owner do you plan to be?
Barroway: "I’m going to be an active owner. I will be involved in all the major decisions of the team. I would let the hockey guys control the hockey operations. They know a lot more about hockey than me.
So no coaching aspirations?
Barroway: "I will not be coaching the team."
There are reports you wanted to flip the team quickly, possibly to another owner to relocate it to Las Vegas. Can you comment on that speculation?
Barroway: "Completely untrue. I am buying this team because I am a lifelong sports and hockey fan. It has always been my dream to become an owner. I want to bring a winner to the Valley. That (report) couldn’t be any more false. I am thrilled to be here and am thrilled to be an owner and would not have gone through this difficult process in buying a team just to go flip it. I don’t think people buy teams to make money. That’s not the goal. You try not to lose too much, but no, I certainly did not buy it for a quick flip. I can’t state that any more emphatically.
For those reading the tea leaves, it has been pretty apparent the NHL wanted to expand, not relocate to Las Vegas for some time. Were you aware of the league’s expansion plans to Las Vegas and other markets as you began pursuing this deal?
Barroway: "There had been talk of expansion to Vegas and yes I was aware of that ahead of time, but again, there was never any thought to relocating the team. We want to build a winner here. We never had any thought about Las Vegas or any other market."
There were multiple reports that this deal started falling apart in recent weeks. Were those reports valid?
Barroway: "No. It’s weird to read articles about yourself that you know are just not right. It is what it is. There are always going to be rumors but we were always completely committed to the deal. People are interested in sports and people come up with cockamamie theories like Las Vegas or like this deal falling apart. That had nothing to do with this deal."
The lender-driven out clause that allows the Coyotes to leave the Valley after five years if their losses reach or exceed $50 million will remain in place despite this deal. Can you explain why?
Barroway: "It was part of the prior deal. Nothing has changed. I just assumed this position as 51 percent owner. It’s just a continuation."
I know you took in the Coyotes’ game against the Flyers earlier this week. What are your general impressions of the team?
Barroway: "I think the team has had a tough start to the year. I think there is a good nucleus of young players. I think we’re going to continue to build this thing long-term. We have some good prospects coming up. We want to build it the right way and we want to be smart about it. I’m going to defer to the hockey experts on that but I am bullish and very positive on the Coyotes’ future."
How much have you talked with the current ownership group?
Barroway: "We have talked quite a bit on a variety of topics, but right now I’m listening and learning before I do anything more."
Do you expect changes in the structure of the ownership group or the hockey operations department?
Barroway: "I don’t think there are going to be any dramatic changes, certainly for the remainder of this year. I think we’re always going to want to make things better, but I don’t see any dramatic changes coming."
Do you expect general manager Don Maloney and coach Dave Tippett to remain in place at least until the end of the season?
Barroway: "Yes. Without a doubt. I think they’ve both done an outstanding job. They both are tremendously respected hockey guys. The results have not been what we wanted so far this year, but we’re going to fix that. I think we have the right hockey guys in place to do it."
George Gosbee said that $30 million would be injected back into the team from this sale, with as much as $9 million going to payroll. What can you tell us about the financial structure of this deal? Does it reduce debt?
Barroway: Yes, it will reduce the debt. That’s all I want to say on that.
What message do you want fans to take from this deal and your arrival?
Barroway: "Be excited. The Coyotes are here to stay. We want to build a great team for you guys so please come out and support us. It’s an exciting day for me and it’s an exciting day for them. I’m thrilled to be a part of this — more than you can possibly imagine."