Tag: lease agreement

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Coyotes’ LeBlanc is relieved by revised arena deal, hopes for long-term solution


It’s not so much the added financial risks of the Arizona Coyotes’ amended arena lease deal with the City of Glendale that bugs COO Anthony LeBlanc. Instead, he’s not a huge fan of the agreement being merely two years long.

Then again, there’s an element of beggars can’t be choosers, either.

“A two-year deal is better than no deal,” LeBlanc admitted during Friday’s press conference.

LeBlanc refuted bad blood with Glendale officials, noting that “business is business and politics is politics.” Even so, he said that he hopes to begin carving out a lengthier agreement with Glendale, possibly beginning in early August.

Some might see this as yet another Band-Aid, but it was needed nonetheless, with the Coyotes official hitting the theme of certainty repeatedly through his presser.

This seems like a short-term win for GM Don Maloney and the on-ice product, even if the revenue stream alterations bring on a greater risk/reward venture for ownership.

“I don’t want to go into free agency next year with Don dealing with the same uncertainty as last year,” LeBlanc said.

To some extent, free agents looking for term may look sideways at the Coyotes’ situation for some time, especially if progress isn’t made on another lease agreement in the coming months. Even so, two years of relative comfort is almost a luxury to a franchise that’s dealt with an almost unending torrent of turmoil.

Columbus officials release arena lease proposal to help keep Blue Jackets in town

Nationwide Arena

With the Columbus Blue Jackets reporting record financial losses over the past few seasons, totaling over $80 million in the last six years and $25 million last year, they’re an organization that’s in desperate need of help to get out of their money woes. With so much money bleeding from the Blue Jackets, owner John P. McConnell has said that if things aren’t turned around that he’ll have to move the team.

While wins haven’t been easy to come by and they’ve made the playoffs just once in franchise history, there’s a plan on the table to try and ensure that the Blue Jackets can stay in Columbus.

This afternoon, a proposal was announced that would see Nationwide, the insurance company that owns the naming rights to the Blue Jackets arena, as well as Franklin County, Ohio and the City of Columbus would team up together along with revenues from a proposed casino to buy the arena.

Doug Caruso of The Columbus Dispatch outlines the plans to help keep the team in Columbus.

Franklin County and Columbus would pledge up to a third of the tax revenue they collect from the Hollywood Casino on the West Side through 2039 to finance the $42.5 million purchase of the arena from Nationwide Realty Investors and pay to operate it, said John Rosenberger, a lawyer hired by Columbus and the county in 2009 to negotiate an arena deal. The Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority would own the arena.

Under the agreement, Nationwide would invest $52 million in the Blue Jackets and would take a 30 percent ownership interest in the team. It would have naming rights to the arena for 10 years.

It’s no secret that money is tight in America and using public money to finance the purchase of an arena, even split up over many groups, raises a giant red flag. While the arena would then belong to the county, the fact that it’s money from the people and not a private firm or even the Blue Jackets owners, is the part that makes this deal seem very curious.

We’ve seen proposals using public money land with a thud in Glendale and on Long Island and those were deals that would’ve secured the location of the Coyotes in Arizona and the Islanders on Long Island for years to come. Those matters were shot down either by government watchdogs or via public vote.

In Columbus, this deal would need to be approved by a vote of the Columbus City Council and Franklin County commissioners to make it work. As for what the deal will do to slow down the losses, Caruso breaks down the numbers.

The deal is expected to save the team $9.5 million a year. The team would agree to remain in Columbus through at least 2039.

The $42 million purchase price for the arena is slightly lower than the $44 million value Nationwide placed on it during court proceedings to set the taxable value of the building in 2006, a case in which it was in the company’s interest to set the price as low as possible. The county auditor had valued the arena at $129.7 million. It cost $147.1 million to build in 1999, Nationwide said at the time.

The state of Ohio would help out with the purchase through a $10 million loan, half of which can be forgiven by the state.

The part that makes the use of public money more irksome is the fact that people in the area voted against using public money to build the arena in the first place. Using it now to make sure the lead tenant can stick around seems like an end-around way of getting what they wanted in the first place.

We’re all for doing the right thing to keep a team in place, but the use of taxpayer money is what will always make us feel awkward. If it’s money that had no other destination for usage that’s fine, but burning public bucks during tough financial times makes the situation feel nervous. The Blue Jackets are the only major professional team in Columbus and letting the arena go vacant would be a tough blow to the city and the community so this move could be viewed as one meant to keep the economy rolling until 2039, it just feels a little bit uncomfortable going all in on supporting it.

Update (5:37 p.m.): Blue Jackets team president Mike Priest issued a statement about the deal on the team’s website.

“We are appreciative of the comprehensive work and due diligence delivered in this report. Mr. Dorrian, Bill Jennison and John Rosenberger each understand the issues and this report offers a solution that will provide a long term sustainable business model for the organization. We are encouraged by the report’s findings.”

Daly: Glendale lease deal will lead to sale of Coyotes


While the fans in Arizona are excited about the prospect of the Coyotes finally being sold to an owner willing to keep them in town, the group actually selling the team appears to be really excited to be making a deal. That group, of course, is none other than the NHL itself.

The Hockey News hears from NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly about how excited they are that they’ll likely be able to spin a perpetual financial loser they bought for $140 million into a team they’re selling to Matthew Hulsizer for $165 million.

“It has always been the league’s objective to secure ownership that will ensure the Coyotes’ long-term future in Glendale,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement issued by the league. “And consummation of the proposed transaction will achieve that.”

The league bought the team out of bankruptcy more than a year ago and has said all along that a new lease was essential if the team were to stay in Arizona.

“We are very pleased that the parties appear to have reached an agreement that will finally lead to a transition of ownership of the Phoenix Coyotes,” Daly said. “… We look forward to working closely with the Hulsizer group and moving quickly toward the conclusion of this process.”

While everyone is talking about things in a way that makes you think they’re trying to not jinx the process, this is the furthest along any of these deals have come when it comes to the Coyotes. Getting this taken care of in Phoenix would help eliminate one of the darker clouds hanging over the league as the Coyotes have been swimming in rumors of their imminent demise for years now, an image that makes the NHL look like a low-rent league incapable of success.

Should Hulsizer become the new owner, his next trick will be to turn a profit in Glendale, something none of the Coyotes previous owners have been able to do. A new lease agreement will go a long way towards helping that out.