Over the weekend, the NHL denied a report that former San Jose Sharks CEO Greg Jamison's group had been approved to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes. But another report has Jamison in the final stages of purchasing the dilapidated franchise from the League, keeping the Coyotes in Glendale.
According to Mick Sunnucks of Phoenix Business Journal, which first reported Jamison's negotiations with the NHL back in Aug. 2011, the League is "putting the finishing touches" in a sale of the team to Jamison:
The deal still has go through final approvals and due diligence as well as through the city of Glendale which owns Jobing.com Arena. But Jamison, the NHL and Glendale are close to a final deal, according to sources familiar with the hockey team.
The NHL is trying to keep the sale price at $170 million in part to help the value of other franchises. The league bought the Coyotes out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009 for $140 million.
Is this long nightmare for Coyotes fans, players, management, arena personnel, city council members, local businesses, bond holders, fans in Seattle, fans in Quebec City, fans in Kansas City, fans in Hamilton, the NHL and everyone else in the hockey world finally coming to a blissful conclusion?
From the Business Journal:
More specific details of the pending sales to Jamison and his group are not available.
The deal being hatched with Jamison could include some rebates and a fund to help cover the team's financial losses. The Coyotes lose $20 million to $25 million annually.
Concessions from the city were going to be part of any ownership deal; there's no dialing back the giveaways that were promised to previous ownership groups like that of Matthew Hulsizer.
From Scott Burnside of ESPN.com, in speaking with NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly last month:
The key to any deal getting done in Phoenix is the amount of give-backs the City of Glendale is prepared to offer up when arranging a new lease for Jobing.com Arena, which was built with taxpayer money.
Daly said the city remains up-front about making concessions but there have been hurdles, including the threat of a lawsuit from the public interest group the Goldwater Institute, that have soured attempts by a number of groups to purchase the team.
There has also been consistent infighting within city council and among city managers that has blunted efforts to find a new owner. "They know they're a critical player in this equation, and I think they're prepared certainly to work with the league and with a potential new owner in helping a franchise transaction happen," Daly said.
From the moment he was involved, we were optimistic about Jamison. He had rescued the Sharks back in 2002 from losing millions, setting the foundation for the successful franchise we see today. He's adept at building coalitions, apparently even one with Jeremy Roenick.
The issues were always going to be, and still are, the finances. So let's not count our Coyotes before they're sold on that last point. Because we've seen these things fall apart in the span of a week.
(And if this falls through, then it's back to Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf and Phoenix attorney John Kaites before relocation.)
This drama has been exhausting and embarrassing for the NHL. Keeping the Coyotes in Glendale may still prove to be a mistake; but it's impossible to know how the community will embrace a winning team because the one that's winning now could have been piled into U-Hauls by season's end. You can't market that. You can expect fans to buy into that.
With a passionate owner, a good product … well, let's just see where it all leads.
As for Quebec City and Seattle: If this is the end of the Coyotes saga, there's always expansion. Ante up.