Coyotes deal off; Jamison wants to try again

Coyotes fans’ worst fears were realized Thursday when prospective owner Greg Jamison acknowledged to FOX Sports Arizona that he was unable to meet a Jan. 31 deadline to complete the purchase of the team.

“We will be unable to complete a deal by the deadline,” Jamison said in a telephone conversation. “We’re still going to pursue a deal anyway, but it will be a different deal.”

Jamison had until midnight on Thursday to complete a deal to purchase the team under the original, $308 million arena lease agreement with the City of Glendale. While he could not assemble the necessary investors and money to meet that deadline, he said he remains hopeful that he can strike a new deal and that hockey will remain in Arizona for some time.

Jamison later released a statement and said he would not be conducting further interviews on Thursday. Here is the statement in its entirety.

“We will not be able to complete our purchase of the Phoenix Coyotes today in time to meet our deadline with the city of Glendale. However, our journey to purchase the Coyotes will continue. We realize this will require additional conversations with the city of Glendale and the NHL. We still believe we can reach an agreement that satisfies everyone. We hope negotiations with the city proceed as smoothly as possible, as everyone involved wants the Coyotes to remain in Arizona.

“To the Arizona’s sports and hockey fans, and the City of Glendale, we appreciate your patience and diligence. We wish everything was completed today as we worked extremely hard on the deal. However, we have taken significant steps to keep the Coyotes in Glendale for the long-term. I’ve seen first-hand the wonderful support Arizona hockey fans have provided the Coyotes and we will continue our efforts to keep the NHL in Arizona.”

ESPN reported Thursday that another group of investors was ready to step in and attempt to broker a deal if Jamison could not. That group will now likely be in play as the NHL attempts to sell a club that Jerry Moyes tried to place in bankruptcy three and a half years ago in an attempt to sell it to Canadian billionaire and Blackberry founder Jim Balsillie. Balsillie’s purchase was contingent on moving the franchise to Hamilton, Ontario, a move strongly opposed by the NHL. A bankruptcy judge rejected Balsillie’s bid, leaving the NHL as the only bidder, buyer and hopeful seller.

The team thought it had an owner in Matthew Hulsizer, co-founder and chief executive officer of PEAK6 Investments, but that deal fell through amid opposition from the local watchdog Goldwater Institute and questions about Hulsizer’s available funding. Sources confirmed to FOX Sports Arizona on Wednesday that Hulsizer has sought to re-enter the Coyotes ownership mix recently, but it’s unclear in what capacity.

Jamison’s name first surfaced about a year ago, and after a pair of failed citizen challenges, the Glendale City Council eventually approved a lease agreement with him and set a Jan. 31 deadline for him to complete the purchase of the club from the NHL for $170 million. Jamison has since been trying to put together a partnership of investors.

Whichever group pursues the team now, it will likely face a less favorable agreement from Glendale. New Mayor Jerry Weiers made that clear to The Arizona Republic on Thursday.

“If we can keep the Coyotes here and have a successful team and have people spending money, certainly I’d want that, but not with the deal that was made with the previous council,” Weiers said.

If another group is unable to complete the sale this season, it could mean the end of the Coyotes’ tenure in Arizona — one that began in 1996 when the franchise relocated from Winnipeg. Quebec City and Seattle have been mentioned as potential landing places, as has Markham, Ontario, a town north of Toronto that recently approved funds to build an NHL-style arena.

He did not elaborate, but Jamison said he believes Thursday’s negotiations helped keep hockey in Arizona beyond this season.

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