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Coyotes, Glendale defeat Goldwater Institute in court; what does this mean for Phoenix’s future?

Greg Wyshynski
Puck Daddy

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OK, so it's not the Supreme Court upholding the Constitutionality of  the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but Thursday's ruling in Maricopa County Superior Court could have quite an impact on the future of the Phoenix Coyotes.

Judge Dean Fink ruled that the Glendale City Council's approval of an arena deal with prospective Coyotes owner Greg Jamison's group should stand. The 20-year, $324 million agreement was voted on back on June 8.

The Goldwater Institute, a conservative group that had helped torpedo a previous bid by Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer to purchase the team, argued that both the vote and the fact that the arena operations contact wasn't put up for bid should have negated the deal.

The ruling, which can be read here (.pdf), called the first charge "trivial" and found the second to be misguided. Goldwater argued that the Purchasing Ordinance requires a competitive bidding process for "supplies and services" that should have opened up the arena lease agreement to bids.

Fink ruled that an exception for "professional services" covers the Coyotes' lease agreement with the city, and rejected the argument.

This is a significant win for the city and the team.

It's a big win if only because it helps lift the cloud that Goldwater placed over the deal. It's uncertainty that's harmed Jamison in his attempts to raise capital for purchasing the team from the NHL.

Now, legally, it appears the arena lease deal is on solid footing. As Gary Bettman said during the Cup Final, that's the first step to successfully bringing an ownership group together.

But they're not out of the woods yet. Earlier, the judge ruled that the arena deal didn't go into effect until July 8. That gave anyone opposing the deal a chance to collect 1,862 valid signatures by July 9 (a Monday) in order to have a ballot initiative regarding the deal.

So while the courts upheld it, the public may still have its say.

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