While there’s interest among investors to buy the Phoenix Coyotes, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman admits the team could be headed out of Glendale after the season unless a deal is struck.
In his weekly radio show, Bettman reported there were three potential buyers of the Coyotes, owned by the NHL since 2009 after going through a bankruptcy. We already know about groups headed by former San Jose Sharks President/CEO Greg Jamison and Chicago White Sox/Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf.
The big issue with the Coyotes: how the team will ever make money in Jobing.com Arena. The past two seasons the team has received $25 million in direct subsidies from the city of Glendale, but that can’t continue: the city is being dinged by the bond market for current arena subsidies, and it’s clear that strategy not sustainable. Add to that the price tag of $170 million stuck on the team by the NHL, which seems to be pretty hefty for a distressed property. (To put it in perspective: the St. Louis Blues, a team in much better shape, sold recently for $185 million).
In any case, we’re already almost to February and the team has not been sold. The NHL doesn’t really have time to go through a gimicky sale like the one Matthew Hulsizer was pursuing — he basically wanted Glendale to pay him to buy the franchise, as did Reinsdorf earlier — and many are skeptical about the long-term potential of the NHL in Phoenix, in any case. It should make for an interesting offseason: is the team better off under NHL control in 2012-2013 drawing 11,633 fans a game — as is the case now, good for dead last in NHL attendance — or playing in a smaller market like Quebec, where there’s the potential for a much more passionate fan base?
RELATED STORIES: Glendale to spend $25M on Coyotes in ’11-’12 — and maybe for next decade; Glendale ready to commit $25M to keep Coyotes in town for next season; Goldwater Institute: We still oppose Coyotes lease; Is Hulsizer’s Coyotes deal collapsing?; Glendale approves Coyotes lease; Could lawsuit sink Glendale arena deal?; Glendale proposal: pay Hulsizer $197M to run $170M team
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