Last night, TSN broke the news that the National Hockey League and the City of Glendale agreed to a deal where the city would cover the costs of operating the Phoenix Coyotes up to $25 million for the 2010-11 season if a local buyer isn't found.
Today, the Globe & Mail's David Shoalts obtained the agreement that states that NHL has told the City of Glendale that they have until December 31, 2010 to find a local buyer, otherwise the league will look to sell to a prospective owner and move the team. Shoalts notes that there was no mention of who the owner would be in the agreement, but sources told him that the group in question was David Thompson and Mark Chipman, the CEO of the group that owns and operates the MTS Centre in Winnipeg.
"According to the agreement, the NHL can also sell the team to a local buyer before Dec. 31 but it also has the “absolute right to approve or disapprove any prospective purchases of the team.”
However, the overall impression of the agreement is that the responsibility of finding a local buyer now rests with the city. At this point, it is not known if there are any substantial negotiations between Glendale officials and either Reinsdorf or Ice Edge. Before Glendale city council voted to give Beasley the power to commit to an agreement with the NHL, talks with both parties broke off.
Glendale hopes to cover its $25-million commitment by creating a special taxing district around Jobing.com Arena and through parking revenue. However, the agreement says if these efforts do not produce the necessary funds the city is responsible to make up the difference."
Beginning July 1, the city of Glendale begins taking ownership of the Coyotes' losses through the end of the 2010-11 season and the NHL forced the city to put $25 million in an escrow account.
The follow up season to the Coyotes' storybook run to the playoffs will once again be filled with relocation discussions and more news about the franchise's possible future in Winnipeg than the on-ice product.
The clock is now ticking on the franchise's future in Phoenix. It will be interesting to see how much greater the fan support is at the start of next season after the team's successes this year. And with the December 31st date looming overhead, this long, drawn-out mess could finally be coming to an end - either disappointing a re-energized fanbase or fulfilling Jim Balsillie's original wish by "making it seven".