The Phoenix Coyotes finally have owners in the form of IceArizona group (aka: Renaissance Sports & Entertainment).
With that, the team won’t be moving to Seattle or anywhere else in the near future, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re out of the woods entirely. IceArizona’s $225 million arena-management agreement with the City of Glendale came with a five-year out clause that can be invoked if the team loses a collective $50 million over that span.
That has led some to wonder if this really is the final chapter in the saga to keep the Coyotes in Glendale, but when the matter was brought up, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman downplayed the clause.
“I don’t understand all the attention that it’s getting,” Bettman said on Arizona Sports 620. “The fact of the matter is that every contract has a term. This term, for it to be invoked, requires the ownership group to lose $50 million, which I assure you they have no intention of doing.”
Bettman also shot down speculation that, if the ownership group wanted to, they could make the accounting numbers look like they lost more money.
“Nobody’s playing any games with that,” Bettman said. “When you have this type of clause, you can’t play accounting games. The fact of the matter is it would require them to lose a real $50 million and as I said, they have no intention of doing that whatsoever and frankly, they’re not incentivized to do that. The best outcome for them is for the community and fans, business community, to support the franchise and have this be the huge success we all believe it can be.”
Ultimately, it looks like that’s what it’s going to come down to: How quickly this franchise can grow and how much fan support it gets now that an ownership group is in place. If the franchise thrives over the next couple of years, then that out clause will become moot. If they struggle mightily, then it will loom over the team.
After years of seeing ticket sales increase with a “skeleton crew” though, Bettman is optimistic about the team’s future.
“With ownership and people being able to, without reservation, commit emotionally to the franchise because they know it’s going to be here, we think the best is yet to come and it’s going to come very quickly.”
Bettman added that he thinks there is a “very easy opportunity for the team to succeed.”