For the past few days there has been a flurry of media reportage on a new player in the ongoing Coyotes ownership saga. According to the media Anthony LeBlanc, a previously failed would-be owner of the Coyotes, has landed a “whale.” That, I have learned, is a term used to describe someone with oodles of money. That does describe George Gosbee, a very rich Canadian indeed. You don’t become a very rich Canadian by being dumb. Mr. Gosbee’s background is finance and not hockey. Although it certainly is possible that he is a hockey aficionado. Mr. LeBlanc must have pitched a smokin’ return on investment (ROI) to Mr. Gosbee, et al. We can only guess as to the money making strategy proposed by LeBlanc to line up his investors but it must be a doosey!
We know that Greg Jamison is still in the hunt and has been working quietly to reassemble an investment group. It’s no secret that I have championed the possibility of his ownership of the team because I know what he stands for and that is a long-term commitment to the team and Glendale. If he fails this time as well, I will welcome any ownership group that makes the same commitment and honors it.
Now, like wild flowers springing up from the desert floor, another possible investment group led by Darin Pastor has surfaced and issued a March 29 Press Release announcing the formation of “an exploratory committee of seasoned investment bankers and other related sports entertainment advisers” to purchase the Coyotes. This group, as well as all of the others, has proudly proclaimed their intent to remain in Glendale.
There is also the possibly of Jerry Reinsdorf, with his Beacon Sports connections, lurking about like a Great White Shark, waiting to strike.
I think I’m beginning to see a pattern emerge. Color me paranoid or suspicious. That’s OK. Just take a moment to think about the current situation. We know of a minimum of three groups seeking to purchase the Coyotes. In the scenarios of previous years, the city waited UNTIL the NHL had given its initial blessing to any of the would-be owners and THEN began negotiations on a final arena management contract. If any of those negotiations had proven successful the new owners would have then finalized a sale with the NHL.
This time it is different. It appears that the NHL will finalize a sale of the team FIRST and THEN the new owners will begin negotiations with the City for a lease management agreement. It certainly puts the ball in this new council’s court. From everything we have seen and heard to date, this is a council that wants a cheap arena management contract. They have simply not indicated a willingness to offer a deal similar to the one that Greg Jamison had. Yet Anthony LeBlanc has said publicly that any deal with the city must be very similar to the previous deal on the table with Greg Jamison.
So there may be an impasse and the new team owners and the city may not be able to craft a deal satisfactory to both sides. If that occurs, we will have new team owners that can relocate the team and a city willing to let the team go and settle for an arena manager of the Phoenix Monarch Group variety.
Under those circumstances, as a possible owner of the team, anyone would be more than willing to publicly state an intent to keep the team in Glendale long-term. It’s a good PR move and wins the hearts and minds of many. Then upon failure to come to terms with Glendale, saying with a straight face and convincingly claiming it was the city’s fault. The critical question that all should be asking, is not who will buy the team for I am convinced the team will be sold and soon. How soon? Who knows? Once again, we heard the magical phrase of “two weeks.” The critical question is, will Glendale come to terms similar to previous deals and finally acknowledge that the team as an anchor tenant at Jobing.com is indeed important to Westgate’s future? That’s the real sixty four thousand dollar (or $6M or $10M) question.