Ever since the news of Andrew Barroway’s purchase of a 51% interest in the Coyotes (expected to be ratified by the NHL’s Board of Governors) there have been questions about the original management agreement between IceArizona and the City of Glendale.
One of the questions that surfaced was would there be an opportunity to renegotiate the agreement. In reading the contract there does not appear such an opportunity. Technically Barroway is becoming the majority owner of the team and for now the arena manager remains the same.
The arena manager is responsible for the operation of the arena and for leasing space to the team. The issue is addressed in Section 5. Demise of Arena and Use Rights. In 5.1, Demise of the Arena it states, “The City hereby demises and lets to the Arena Manager, and the Arena Manager hereby takes and leases from the City, effective on the Closing Date, for the Term and upon the provisions (i) The Arena Facility…” In Section 5.2, Grant Use of Rights, it says, “In addition to the rights granted by the City to the Arena Manager in the other provisions of this Agreement, the City hereby grants to the Arena Manager, and approves the right of the Arena Manager to grant to the Team Owner, during the Term, the exclusive right and obligation to use and occupy the Hockey Event Spaces…”
In Section 6.2., Sublease of Exclusive Team Spaces, it says, “The Team Manager hereby subleases the Exclusive Team Spaces to the Team Owner…” The team is a subtenant of the arena. We know that Barroway is securing a 51% interest in the team but we do not know if he is also acquiring a majority interest in the arena management company.
Even if Barroway became a majority owner of the arena management company in Section 4.2.3, Arena Sub-Manager, “The Arena Manager may, from time to time, delegate all or a portion of its duties and responsibilities to an Arena Sub-Manager…” There is no provision that I can find whereby a change in team ownership requires a renegotiation of the lease since: (1) the lease is with the arena management company and (2) the arena management company can sub-lease to an arena sub-manager without city approval as long as all duties and responsibilities continue to be met satisfactorily.
The other question that has been raised is the city’s ability to audit. A little background is in order. Under the team ownership of Ellman and Moyes the city received financial reports but had to accept them without any corroboration. This eventually became problematical for the city. City Council wanted a mechanism whereby it could verify what the arena manager was reporting in terms of revenues and costs associated with the arena’s management and operation. Hence Section 8.16, Financial Reports and Section 8.17, Audits were incorporated into the agreement. Financial reports must be submitted to the city monthly, quarterly and annually. To ensure the veracity of the reports submitted, in Section 8.17.1, “The City shall have the right to conduct an independent audit of the management and operation of the Arena (or any part thereof) and the Account Records (or any part thereof) and the Team Owner Records (or any part thereof) by City Staff or by an independent certified public accounting firm selected by the City.” This section clearly grants the city the right to audit not just arena manager financial records but financial records of the team as well.
Keep in mind that this agreement was devised by attorneys and as a result, their interpretations of the terms can vary. That’s how they earn their fees…by arguing exactly what a term or provision of a contract actually means. They could argue how many gnats are on the head of a pin.
As a result you can be sure that every sentence within the agreement can be disputed and argued by attorneys. On the face of it, it appears the city has no legal right to renegotiate the management agreement with IceArizona. IceArizona would have to agree to do so voluntarily and that’s not going to happen. However, the city does have a legal right to audit manager and team financial records and to thereby confirm the revenues and expenses that are reported to it.
© Joyce Clark, 2014
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