Glendale may pay NHL $25 million for another Coyotes season

Greg Wyshynski
May 7, 2011

Time was not on the side of the Phoenix Coyotes.

The Goldwater Institute had them by the stones over the bond sale issue. Prospective owner Matthew Hulsizer, the NHL and the Board of Governors were losing patience with the sale process. Winnipeg, and the necessity of the NHL's 2011-12 schedule, were looming.

So the City of Glendale has apparently decided to reset the clock, have this moribund franchise remain in the desert for another season and see if they can make a deal with Hulsizer (or someone else) to keep the team local.

Via Scott Burnside of ESPN:

The City of Glendale released its council agenda Friday and multiple sources confirmed to ESPN.com that the city is looking at replicating an arrangement that cost the municipality $25 million this season to help cover operating costs while the National Hockey League finds an owner for the franchise for next season.

The proposal to extend the guarantee to next season is expected to pass -- one source told ESPN.com Friday it would be a "no-brainer" for the city to do so -- and could take some of the pressure off of the municipality to sell more than $100 million in bonds that are crucial to closing a deal with Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer.

The NHL is down with this plan, via Phoenix Business Journal:

"As we have for the past two-plus years, we have been working very closely with the city of Glendale to do everything possible to ensure the Coyotes' future in Glendale. At the city's request, we have agreed to pursue another one-year interim arrangement while we jointly pursue a long-term ownership solution. We remain confident that one exists, and we intend to continue to pursue it," said deputy NHL commissioner Bill Daly.

The Winnipeg Sun thinks there are other factors at play as well:

By not finalizing the deal midseason, Hulsizer couldn't benefit from the NHL's revenue sharing plan, nor could he collect on his arena management fee, payable by Glendale and pegged at nearly $20 million a year. So it's not believed Hulsizer is sweetening the pot.

Delaying the inevitable? A stay of execution? Perhaps. But Glendale buys some time with Hulsizer, solidifies its footing in the showdown with Goldwater and is no longer at the mercy of the NHL schedule. Meanwhile, the good people of Winnipeg may let their eyes wander over to the Atlanta Thrashers as the NHL's most portable team with Glendale and the League continuing to stubbornly push to keep the team in Phoenix.

Also on Friday: The Hulsizer group denied he was looking to buy the St. Louis Blues and had soured on the Coyotes. And why not: You don't see the St. Louis City Council grabbing its ankles for him like the accommodating folks in Glendale, do you?