ESPN's Scott Burnside reported last night that the City of Glendale located its collective cojones and plans to file suit against "the Goldwater Institute and specific members of the public watchdog's board" for "a legal form of interference when the institute reached out to potential buyers of municipal bonds" over the sale of the Phoenix Coyotes.
Please recall potential Coyotes owner Matthew Hulsizer explaining last week how the threat of litigation from the Goldwater group could inflate interest rates and cost Glendale as much as an extra $100 million over the next 30 years.
The Goldwater Institute contends that Glendale giving Hulsizer an estimated $197 million violates the Arizona Constitution's ban on government financial gifts to businesses.
From Burnside, on the ticking clock for the NHL, Glendale, Goldwater, Hulsizer and relocation to Winnipeg:
The league has had the option of relocating the team since the end of December but the emergence of Hulsizer looked like the team's future in Arizona was going to be assured. But Goldwater's threat to sue the municipality over the proposed deal has stalled the sale of the municipal bonds and thrown the team's future into uncertainty.
A source familiar with the planned lawsuit said the city will name not just the institute itself but individual directors and will ask for "hundreds of millions" of dollars in damages. It's believed the city will also ask for a judgment that the lease agreement doesn't contravene state law.
What does this all mean for the Coyotes?
If the City can get that judgment soon then the lawsuit becomes moot as two things happen. First it means that the Goldwater Group wouldn't have any grounds on which to sue any longer. That in turn would lower the rate on the bonds, which is what the city needs anyways, and allow the sale to proceed. However, if this time takes away from profits, or the tampering negatively affects the interest rate, Glendale could still have a claim as there would be monetary damages.
In all this suit isn't an indicator of the team staying or going in and of itself and saying otherwise is foolish. What this move does is take away the Goldwater Institute's ability to sit and do nothing and get a "win."
The Goldwater group has been playing hardball for weeks; this aggressive move by Glendale could be an indication we're at zero hour for Hulsizer and the NHL for this sale.
Meanwhile, two interesting columns about two different fans bases. First, Paola Boivin of the Arizona Republic has had enough with the negativity towards Coyotes fans:
I'm done listening to those who say the Valley can't support a hockey team. How do they know?
The Coyotes' 15-season stay in the Valley has been tainted by an endless stream of ownership uncertainty, facility debate and lawsuit hyperbole. Management has been either subpar or hamstrung. How the heck are we supposed to build a relationship if the threat of a break-up always is on the horizon?
Give me a quality team, sound management, committed ownership and the promise of permanent residence, and then we'll talk. Until then, don't rip my community as one that doesn't appreciate this brilliant sport.
Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press has a piece rallying support of a return of the NHL and a word of warning to the community:
As a city, we've talked the talk. Well, it's potentially bell time around here and now we'll have to prove we can walk the walk.
Can and will Winnipeg support an NHL team? It's no slam dunk and, for an NHL franchise to work in this community, there will have to be a tight management strategy and fuel to feed the engine. That fuel is cash, put forth by individual fans as well as business big and small.
Strategic and effective ownership, supported by an invested fan base, will make this enterprise work. Make no mistake, an NHL team in Winnipeg playing in the league's smallest arena will not have the same resources as such monster franchises as Toronto and Chicago.
The NHL in Winnipeg will work at one speed and one speed only -- full throttle.
Question is, how fast will another team arrive in the 'Peg?