After a bankruptcy judge told the NHL and Jerry Noyes to work out a plan to sell the Phoenix Coyotes, some number-crunching by potential new owner Jim Balsillie shifts attention away from a potential new arena and back to the unual suspect: an expanded Copps Coliseum.After a bankruptcy judge told the NHL and Jerry Noyes to work out a plan to sell the Phoenix Coyotes, some number-crunching by potential new owner Jim Balsillie shifts attention away from a potential new arena and back to the unual suspect: an expanded Copps Coliseum.
It will take a little time for the NHL and Noyes to work out the team’s tangled finances in a way to appease the bankruptcy court, we’re told; the main issue is how to treat unsecured creditors, and a hangup is Noyes’ desire to get back more than $100 million of what he’s invested — far less than what he’s put in, but more than the NHL wants to see him walk away with after the sale of the team. The NHL also wants to see a potential new owner — at this point, RIM co-founder Jim Balsillie — pay more to settle more debts in Phoenix.
So while Balsillie is likely to pay more to settle the Coyote debts, he’s left with less on the back end, and the grim reality is that no one can afford a new arena at this time, even one privately financed. That leaves Hamilton’s Copps Coliseum back in play as an NHL home.
In Hamilton, that’s no surprise: the 17,500-seat arena was built in 1985 with the NHL as a potential future tenant. Of course, since then what passes for state of the art is miles beyond 1985’s standards; Copps opened with 12 suites, far less than new facilities feature. And there’s no club level or private entertainment areas found in newer arenas.
The solution, we’re told: literally raise the roof on the facility and add 60 new suites and/or a club level. New seats would also need to be installed in the upper deck. The total cost of the arena expansion: between $85 and $90 million.
This couldn’t be done in time for the 2009-2010 season, however. The team would need to play at the current Copps Coliseum, spiffed up with new signage and scoreboards, enchanced hospitality areas and some technical changes to the arena infrastructure. The cost of all this: between $20 million and $25 million.
The talk in NHL insider circles: the move of the Coyotes is close to a done deal. The only issue is whether the sale of the team can be done in time for the 2009-2010 season.
RELATED STORIES: Coyotes seek shelter in bankruptcy court; NHL to oppose; Who’s in control of Coyotes? Glendale says NHL; team denies; Coyotes still millions in arrears on arena payments; Could Phoenix Coyotes end up in Toronto?; Financial woes continue for Coyotes; Coyotes now current on arena lease payments
Sign up for the free weekly Arena Digest newsletter and keep up with the latest happenings! You can sign up here.