Threats, law suits, insults, big money being thrown around. If you didn’t know better it sounds like the plot line to a new drama on network TV. Instead it’s just all a part of what’s going on lately in the ongoing saga of the Phoenix Coyotes, Matthew Hulsizer, the City of Glendale, and the Goldwater Institute.
If you’re not caught up on things, the watchdog group Goldwater Institute says they will sue the City of Glendale before they go through with a bond sale in order to raise the money they’re looking to give to prospective buyer Matthew Hulsizer control of the team and keep the Coyotes in Glendale. This means that if the sale is delayed the interest rate on the bonds go up thus making it a lot harder to pull it off, if at all.
Making matters more fun is the City of Glendale threatening a countersuit against the Goldwater Institute, a scare tactic that likely would keep the courts tied up for a long time and end up forcing the team to be sold to the highest bidder virtually regardless of where the new owner wanted to have the team play.
Today, the City of Glendale did not file paperwork to sue the Goldwater Institute. In this game of chicken, Goldwater stood firm while Glendale backed down as they knew they’d have to do. Glendale may still move to do that, but if matters get tied up in court while the NHL sweats out another financial loser of a season in Arizona (reported to be $40 million in losses just this season) there’s virtually no doubt the NHL Board of Governors will seek to sell the team to David Thomson and True North based out of Winnipeg.
As with everything having to do with this story, there’s a lot to believe and not believe with lots of heated opinions and angled takes on matters. Wading through the reports you get that are both pro-Glendale and pro-Winnipeg we can cut through to the heart of the matter and see that things appear to be at their darkest hour in the struggle to keep the Coyotes in Arizona.
After all, the Goldwater Institute’s contention is that the bond sale is an egregious misuse of public funds. They feel that their job is to make sure the city doesn’t go bankrupt and lose out on basic civic functions to help pay off a millionaire to help him buy the team. It’s understandable that the fans in the desert would think the group is just acting like a bunch of spoil sports out to ruin their fun and chase away the Coyotes back to Winnipeg.
That said, there’s something to be said for a community of 250,000 people committing the initial $25 million earlier this year to pony up for the team’s potential losses and then another potential $100 million in the bond sale to keep a hockey team that has the second worst attendance in the NHL. While the city would expect that parking revenues would help them eventually get that money back, that’s like hoping a lottery ticket might pan out and win you money to help pay the bills in the future.
Making the reality of the situation look a little worse for Arizona is the projected revenue the team could see if they moved to Winnipeg. Yahoo’s Nicholas Cotsonika reported today that while NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly doesn’t think a Goldwater Institute law suit will hamper the sale, the amount of money to be made in Winnipeg would likely turn out to be more than what the Coyotes make in Glendale and even more than what the Thrashers make in Atlanta.
Take into consideration here that Winnipeg is the eighth largest market in Canada while Phoenix/Glendale is the 12th largest in the United States. The potential future home of the Coyotes, the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, would also be the NHL’s smallest venue with just over 15,000 seats. The NHL doesn’t want to be in a position to make more with less, they’d like to make more money with more fans but if the courts get factored into matters too heavily in the coming days and weeks in Arizona, Gary Bettman and the rest of the NHL might not have another choice than to sell the team to True North and send the Coyotes back to Winnipeg.