Puck Daddy - NHL

Today is another milestone in the Phoenix Coyotes saga, as final bids to buy the team are due by the end of the day in federal bankruptcy court in Arizona.

As Reuters reports, an auction that limited to bidders who will keep the team in Phoenix is scheduled for Aug. 5. But as the Hamilton Spectator points out (and why wouldn't it?), there are several scenarios through which the Coyotes could still be mobile.

The real intrigue coming out of this seemingly endless drama recently has emanated from a court dispute between Glendale and the Goldwater Institute, a conservative group that successfully sued to make public "records related to the negotiations of the sale of the Phoenix Coyotes." From the Arizona Republic, which adds that more records could become public today:

The institute says it is trying to block the city from giving up taxpayer money to a new team owner, such as [Jerry] Reinsdorf, so that the Coyotes will stay local. City officials say they wouldn't surrender arena rent and fees collected from the team, but would cooperate with a future owner to increase team revenues in other ways.

We'll soon know plenty about what the city intends to do in order to sweeten the pot for a guy like Reinsdorf, but the Arizona Republic offered some theories about what the concessions might entail, including:

Form a special taxing district: Other cities, like Tempe, Chandler and Phoenix, have special taxing districts in their downtowns that pay for "enhanced services," such as security, parking control and marketing. A majority of property owners must vote to create the district, form a governing board and set the tax rates. The extra property taxes are then collected by the city and used for the services the property owners choose. Could Ellman and other property owners around Jobing,com Arena, who have a big stake in hockey fans' continuing to visit the area, form such a district to help a new team owner pay for services?

As we mentioned in the Puck Headlines, the Globe & Mail detailed the team's $67.1 million net loss last season, which included a $27.1 million loss for hockey operations. Success on the ice can obviously affect part of that loss; but as Reinsdorf has indicated, any potential owner is going to need a huge helping hand from the city in bringing down the rest of the deficit. Groups like the Goldwater Institute are watching closely to make sure the taxpayers understand the severity and implications of the city's concessions.

UPDATE: A group of Canadian and American investors filed "a letter of intent to bid up to $150 million and Jerry Reinsdorf also submitted his bid, according to the Arizona Republic.

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