Today is March 12, 2013, and the Coyotes ownership situation is silent…deathly so. What we know or think we know is that Mayor Weiers announced over a month ago that he had received calls expressing “interest” from mystery buyers. If there really were mystery buyers we have to assume that he passed those contacts on to the appropriate person, in this case, the Interim City Manager. We know from the public statements of Councilmember Gary Sherwood that Greg Jamison is making another run for ownership. We also know from media reports that Grant Woods is likely assisting Ice Edge in a possible bid and that Anthony LeBlanc, reputed to have broken away from the original Jamison investment group, said any new ownership deal has got to look very similar to the deal Greg Jamison was working previously. Councilmember Sherwood publicly stated that Glendale was hiring Beacon Sports Capital to negotiate for the city. Since then we have heard that Beacon is writing the RFP for the deal and that it is not expected to be completed until the end of March. It will have to go to council in executive session for approval and then will be released. That means a public RFP won’t hit the streets until April…and the clock continues to tick.
We know that Beacon Sports has a close relationship to Michael Reinsdorf and that relationship may offer insider access to the RFP for a possible Reinsdorf/Kaites bid.
We know that Bill Daley of the National Hockey League has said that if the deal cannot be completed in this round, I presume by the end of the season, the NHL will consider relocation of the team…and the clock continues to tick.
What is worrisome is the seeming lack of any sense of urgency by the seven councilmembers or upper management of the city to complete a deal before the NHL pulls the plug. The end of the season for the Coyotes, if they do not have any play-off games, is the end of April. After the RFP is issued in April it will likely stay open for 45 days. Then the council needs to bless a possible owner, the NHL has to approve the possible owner and then, only then, is the final deal crafted. The attorneys bless their hearts; will take quite some time and many billable hours to finalize this new deal. Bear in mind the city will not have the services of former City Attorney Craig Tindall. In past years he had negotiated (some say obstructed) several possible deals for the city. Without his expertise, it could take considerably longer…and the clock continues to tick.
Something which may or may not relate to the Coyotes deal is the attendance of Senator John McCain and Grant Woods at the Saturday hockey game where they were seen chatting with Mayor Weiers. Could one of the topics of conversation have been the Coyotes deal? Following that game Mayor Weiers, accompanied by Councilmembers Sherwood and Chavira, flew to Washington, D.C. The trip appeared to have as its goal Luke Air Force Base and an effort to lobby for the F-35. However, a March 12th Phoenix Business Journal article reports that the F-35 has never been considered for a possible sequestration cut. Now, if they were there to lobby for keeping the Glendale Airport’s tower open that would make far more sense as it is on the chopping block. But this was not declared to be part of their lobbying agenda. If nothing else it sure makes for a great photo op for newly elected officials. There are so many questions floating about. I’ll leave it to you to decide if this was the kind of politics where one hand washes the other. You must decide for yourself. Was this trip with access to the Department of Defense a means of acknowledging access to Beacon and the RFP before issuance or just an opportunity for a local mayor to have a photo op? I don’t know. This is all pure speculation of course but it’s interesting to try to figure out if and how the dots may connect.
I guess we have to assume that there is much scurrying behind the scenes and we may see that a Kaites/Reinsdorf group or a Jamison Group emerges as the front runners However, if a deal similar to the previous Jamison deal, requiring a $13M or $14M annual management fee, is offered to the city, as Anthony LeBlanc stated is needed, will this current council accept it? Will we see an offer coming forward at the moment the RFP hits the streets? And the clock continues to tick.
We know Councilmember Alvarez has publicly stated that NO deal is a good deal. Will she reconsider a five year deal? Or does she have the clout to bring Councilmembers Ian Hugh and Sam Chavira with her and find just one more vote in rejection of any deal? If so, could it be the Mayor? We saw those same four join forces to oust the City Attorney Craig Tindall…and the clock continues to tick.
Weiers ran for election saying that any Coyotes deal must not be done on the backs of Glendale taxpayers. Is the real plan to let the time run out on putting any deal together? Only time will tell.