On May 24 media sources announced that the NHL has chosen a bride-to-be owner of the Phoenix Coyotes – Renaissance Sports and Entertainment led by George Gosbee and Anthony LeBlanc. It was also widely reported that Commissioner Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Daly along with Gosbee/LeBlanc will do a “walk around” with the Mayor and City Council on Tuesday morning, May 28th. The term “walk around” is a slang expression. It means that meeting all seven of the council at one time would violate the Open Meeting Law unless they were making a presentation at a public council workshop or meeting. To avoid violation of the Open Meeting Law these gentlemen will meet in groups of no more than 3 councilmembers (4 councilmembers would trigger a violation).
Craig Morgan is accurate in his May 24th article for Fox Sports Arizona entitled Sources: Gosbee/LeBlanc group has agreement to purchase Coyotes when he says, “ Bettman, Daly and RSE will meet with Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers and then will hold two separate meetings, each to be attended by three councilmembers.” Here is the link: http://www.foxsportsarizona.com/nhl/phoenix-coyotes/story/Sources-GosbeeLeBlanc-group-has-agreemen?blockID=905273&feedID=3702 .
Paul Giblin’s piece for the Arizona Republic of May 24th entitled NHL may lay out Coyotes ownership deal Tuesday, mayor says reports the same saying, “Bettman, Daly and RSE will meet with Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers and then will hold two separate meetings, each to be attended by three councilmembers.” Here is the link: http://www.azcentral.com/community/glendale/articles/20130524nhl-expected-lay-out-coyotes-ownership-deal-tuesday-mayor-says.html .
So far, so good. They both report the very same fact. From here on in, read carefully, very carefully. Morgan, in his article says, “If RSE is not able to reach an agreement with Glendale, sources (my bold) have said that John Kaites’ group is still a possibility to purchase the team, as would be Greg Jamison’s group if it could gather the necessary investors. But multiple sources (my bold) have said that the NHL is no longer interested in dealing with Darin Pastor, whose bid was recently rejected by the league.” These sources with no attribution are dealing in speculation. Could be fact. Could be fiction. Giblin, in his article, says, “Sherwood said he believes (my bold) any potential owners will want to be paid substantially more than $6 million a year, which is the figure that’s been earmarked in numerous proposed city budgets for the arena management fee.” One person’s belief, especially in this instance, is not fact when there are 6 other councilmembers who may, or may not share that belief.
What have we learned that we did not already know? Bettman, Daly, Gosbee and LeBlanc will meet the Glendale city council on Tuesday, May 28th. It appears that RSE will become the NHL’s choice as owner. That is an assumption until the NHL makes a formal announcement. Public release of the facts of the deal are essential. Questions need answers, such as: Is there an opt-out or relocation clause? What is the time period for either? What is the ratio of equity to debt? Councilmember Sherwood stated publicly that we will hear the deal parameters at the council workshop on Tuesday, June 4, 2013.
There is another fact that is being ignored and perhaps it will be ignored permanently as the city has the discretion to ignore all or part of the Beacon RFP– and that is the Beacon Sports/City of Glendale RFP requirements on page 5:
Minimum Requirements/Qualifications for Managers.
In order to have its response evaluated, a Manager (or if an affiliate, its parent company) must demonstrate at least one of the following requirements:
i. Is a nationally or regionally recognized facility management company which manages publicly or privately-owned public assembly and/or sports and entertainment facilities;
ii. During the past three years, has successfully managed at least one NHL or National Basketball Association (“NBA”)/all-purpose arenas with a seating capacity of at least 10,000 persons; or;
iii. The Manager must have current experience in operating such a facility on behalf of a public entity, such as the City of Glendale;
The Renaissance Sports and Entertainment group was organized only recently for the express purpose of attempting to purchase the Coyotes. They have no demonstrable experience as a fledgling group in managing any sports or entertainment facilities, much less an NHL or NBA all-purpose arena.
I applaud Bettman and Daly having finally made a decision in terms of ownership but what were they thinking? The NHL must be ready to use its muscle with a “take it or leave it” strategy. Do they seriously think a MAJORITY of this council will accept as an arena manager a newly formed group with no track record in managing an arena? And do they think a MAJORITY of this council will expend more than the $6M budgeted in the soon-to-be-approved city’s Fiscal Year 2013-14 Budget? Councilmember Sherwood says he has a plan but will it turn out to be an acceptable one? Not unless this council is suddenly willing to listen to the likes of Ken Jones, Arthur Thruston and Andrew/Darcy Marwick berating them for subsidizing a sports team during the Public Comment period at every council meeting –forever.