Glendale gets OK to vote on Coyotes lease

Glendale gets OK to vote on Coyotes lease

Published Jun. 7, 2012 8:20 p.m. ET

PHOENIX (AP) -- The Glendale City Council has a vote scheduled for Friday on a lease agreement that would clear the way for the sale of the Coyotes.

The watchdog Goldwater Institute announced Thursday that it would ask a judge for a temporary restraining order to prevent such a vote, but that request was denied in court arguments early Friday. The institute based its request on its contention that the city violated the Arizona open meetings law by failing to make public all documents related to the lease, and Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper ruled that while it appeared state laws had been violated, the court did not have the authority to block a vote.

The seven-member city council was scheduled to convene at 10:15 a.m. Friday to vote on a lease that would pay prospective owner Greg Jamison $17 million a year for arena operation costs and other items. The NHL has owned the team for three seasons after buying it in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Goldwater officials said they question the timing of the council's vote.

"The city of Glendale plans to consider what is estimated to be a $425 million arena management deal for Arena," Goldwater Institute president Darcy Olsen said in a statement. "Arizona's Open Meetings Law and multiple court orders require the city to make public all documents related to the proposed contract at least 24 hours before a council vote is taken, which it has not done.

"The 100-page deal released on Monday refers to a number of exhibits that are central to analyzing the impact of the deal on Glendale's finances, which the city must make public," Olsen added.

After Friday's ruling, Goldwater attorney Carrie Ann Sitren said the issue would be brought back to court in an attempt to void the lease if it is approved by the council.

A proposed sale of the Coyotes last year to Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer was derailed by the threat of a lawsuit by the Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute. The threat held up the city's sale of bonds necessary to fill the requirements of the lease agreement reached with Hulsizer. The watchdog group argued that Glendale's deal with Hulsizer violated the state's anti-subsidy law.

The NHL bought the Coyotes out of bankruptcy in September 2009 with the intention of finding a buyer to keep the team in Arizona. The franchise never has made a profit since moving from Winnipeg in 1996.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced last month before Game 5 of Phoenix's second-round series with Nashville that the league reached a preliminary agreement to sell the team to a group headed by Jamison, the former CEO of the San Jose Sharks, pending a lease agreement with Glendale.

Bettman said at the time of the sale announcement that he believes the current deal is structured specifically to avoid the issues the Goldwater Institute raised in the Hulsizer proposal.