Gary Bettman, NHL to announce Phoenix Coyotes ownership deal with Greg Jamison, say reports
The Phoenix Coyotes have a chance to make franchise history on Monday, advancing to the conference finals for the first time should they eliminate the Nashville Predators in Game 5.
But according to several reports, there could be another, even more significant moment for the Coyotes' franchise on the same day: The National Hockey League announcing that it has reached a tentative deal to sell the team to a group led by Greg Jamison, former CEO of the San Jose Sharks.
According to Mike Sunnucks of Phoenix Business Journal, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman will be in Glendale to announce that "the Coyotes are no longer on the market and the league is finalizing a sale with Jamison."
Via the Journal:
The NHL announcement signals the league is comfortable with investment money and any financing involved with Jamsion's bid. It also sets the stage for a city of Glendale vote on payments to the Jamison group to facilitate the sale and help the group absorb some short-term financial losses. The Coyotes lose $20 million to $25 million per season. The city will pay new Coyotes owners to run Jobing.com Arena.
Fox 10 in Phoenix also reported on the NHL's announcement, while Dave Pagnotta of The Fourth Period confirmed it. The NHL has owned the team since 2009; Jamison, who helped turned the Sharks profitable, has been in the mix for this team since last August.
For months, Coyotes COO Mike Nealy had predicted the sale would happen, and he told ESPN.com on May 3 that "I wouldn't be shocked if we saw something next week."
From Pierre LeBrun, Nealy said:
"As far as the City of Glendale, they certainly are shooting to be able to do something early next week. They have a council meeting scheduled for Tuesday and they'd like to do that. Certainly the NHL wouldn't have anything against that. So if those three pieces can come together and that's all in the mix, it could happen.''
Council member Joyce Clark tweeted on Sunday night: "There will be NO hockey deal presented to the Glendale City Council this Tuesday night despite rumors." But reporter Lisa Halverstad reported earlier via a source that "Jamison is shooting to get an item on the Tuesday Glendale City Council agenda."
Another potential obstacle could be provided by the Goldwater Institute, a nonprofit watchdog organization that helped sink Matthew Hulsizer's bid to buy the Coyotes a year ago. Goldwater threatened litigation because it felt the proposed lease agreement violated state laws concerning subsidies for private business.
Goldwater has already indicated it will scrutinize any deal between the city and a new ownership group.
This isn't over yet; but the news is certainly good for the long-suffering Coyotes fans and the NHL, which not only can stop pouring money into this franchise as its steward but can also look forward to massive expansion fees from Quebec City in a few years …
UPDATE: A little more from Dave Shoalts from the Globe & Mail:
While the no comments indicate an agreement may be announced, that is not the biggest problem in the deal. It is thought they agreed on the basic terms of the deal some time ago - the NHL wants $170-million (all currency U.S.) for the team it bought out of bankruptcy in October, 2009 - but a lease agreement with the suburban city of Glendale is needed to complete the sale. The final step will be the approval of the NHL's board of governors but that is not expected to be a problem.
The biggest threat is the looming opposition from the Goldwater Institute, a conservative watchdog group which scuttled a previous bid on the grounds that Glendale would violate Arizona's laws against excessive public subsidies to private companies. The institute is still battling the city in court over access to records related to the Coyotes sale.
There will be an announcement on Monday.