On October 2, 2014 Larry Brooks, a reporter for the New York Post, reported that a 51% interest in the Coyotes is in the process of being acquired by Andrew Barroway. Barroway is managing partner and founder of Merion Investment Management LP based in Radnor, PA. He is a failed suitor in the purchase of the Devils and Islanders. At this point the story is speculation as neither the NHL nor the Coyotes’ owners have confirmed the deal. Here is the link: http://nypost.com/2014/10/02/spurned-islanders-buyer-to-purchase-coyotes-instead/. As an exercise, let’s speculate some more.
Why is Barroway acquiring a majority interest in the team? He wants to own a hockey team. That is evident in his two failed attempts. But he wants more than that. He wants to be in control and to make the ultimate and final decisions about the team’s fate at a future date. The team cannot and will not leave for 5 years. We can enjoy hockey in the Valley through the 2018-2019 season. After that you will need to consult your crystal ball. Although I would expect that when the fans finally realize the team’s days may be numbered attendance will drop like a stone.
According to the agreement the team cannot leave for 5 hockey seasons and must demonstrate $50 million in operating losses. Here is the exact language in the management agreement: Section 3. Term. 3.3. Early Termination by Arena Manager/Team Owner. “Notwithstanding the other terms and provisions of this Agreement, Team Owner and Arena Manager jointly shall have the right to terminate this agreement without penalty or cost by delivery of written notice to the City at any time within 180 days following the end of the fifth (5th) hockey season year after the execution date if (a) neither terminating Party is in material default of any term or condition of this Agreement, and (b)Team Owner has incurred a cumulative Operating Loss of $50,000,000 or more, calculated as the sum of Team Owner’s operating income/loss for each the Fiscal Year periods then ended, provided that if such notice is given during any NHL hockey season, the termination shall not be effective until the end of the applicable hockey season, including all Home Games associated with the season. In this regard, Team Owner shall deliver to the City, not later than ninety (90) days following the end of each Fiscal Year, a statement (certified to the City by the Team Owner’s chief financial officer or the Team Owner’s certified public accountants, at the option of Team Owner) of the Team Owner’s claimed operating income or loss for such Fiscal Year, which statement shall be subject to audit by the City and the result f such audit shall thereafter be conclusive upon team Owner with respect to the determination of Operating Losses.” This exact same provision applies to the city as well.
The New York Post story cites the team loss in its first year of operation at $24 million. Educated rumors are that it’s on the low side and could be more. As long as we’re speculating, let’s peg their losses at $20 million a year. At the end of 5 years the team’s losses will be north of $100 million and will meet the terms of the agreement. Barroway’s investment in the team now will cover those expected losses and he will be in the cat bird’s seat to decide the team’s future move.
Let’s wait to see if a majority interest is indeed sold to Barroway. That will deliver a strong message to everyone and you can then decide how much of an emotional investment you wish to make in the team. And just when we thought the Coyotes saga was closed…so it continues.
© Joyce Clark, 2014
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