For the second straight year, the Glendale City Council is picking up the check to keep the Coyotes in town.
After a 5-2 vote, the city council approved to pay up $25 million to the NHL to help cover losses while they league continues to work out a deal with prospective buyer Matthew Hulsizer or anyone else willing to pony up the money needed to buy the team.
The decision by the city council means the Coyotes aren’t going anywhere next season and will play another season in the desert. For the fans in Glendale and around Phoenix, their team is saved for another year. It’ll make for another year in limbo for the team if they cannot get a deal done with Hulsizer. The NHL and Hulsizer continue to try and haggle out a deal with the City of Glendale over bond issues to help subsidize Hulsizer’s purchase of the team but the opposition from the Goldwater Institute over the use of city tax money to make it happen has made it difficult to get anything done.
That fight will get to continue on unless a different means can be worked out that satisfies Goldwater’s problems with the arrangement. Members of the city council who voted to approve the deal slammed Goldwater claiming they were standing up against the deal to prop up their own agenda.
What this means now is that the very patient group from Winnipeg headed up by David Thomson and True North will either have to sweat out the next year in hopes that the Coyotes can’t get a deal done and then perhaps, finally, get to take back the team that once called Winnipeg home.
Their more likely scenario, however, probably points them in the direction of the moribund Atlanta Thrashers. The Thrashers ownership problems and the team’s lack of a following in Atlanta has drawn the attention of the league. While the Atlanta Spirit group continues to struggle to find local investors willing to keep the team in Georgia, a process that’s gone on now for six years, Thomson could get a “booby prize” in being allowed to purchase the Thrashers and take them north.
That much is all speculative for now but commissioner Gary Bettman knows he’s got a very wealthy potential owner waiting in the wings in Thomson. With two teams feeling the bite to get a new owner and failing financially in two big American cities, the pressure might be on to solve the money drain with at least the Thrashers when there’s a prospective owner with deep pockets ready to step in.
For now, fans in Glendale and Arizona can celebrate keeping their team, but another year living on the edge with a team that can’t break the bank to spend for free agents thanks to the league owning them and an ownership situation that’s still unsolved, reliving the same nightmare over and over again may just start to wear the fans out.