On Friday, March 13, 2015 we learned that the Coyotes had finally finished their audit and submitted it to the City of Glendale. What is troublesome is the fact that the results were submitted to Glendale five months late. The first question is, why? IceArizona’s rationale is sure to be that the Barroway purchase was the cause of the delay. But his purchase was in December and it is now March. Audits do take time but not this much time.

Another troublesome aspect is IceArizona’s inability to abide by the arena management agreement stipulation 8.16.1 (c) Annual Financial Reports, “Not later than 90 days after the end of each Fiscal Year (June 30), provided, that if all necessary information from the NHL related to the following items (a), (b) and (c) shall not have been received by the date which is 30 days after the end of each Fiscal Year, then interim reports shall be provided within the normal time frame and final reports shall be provided within 60 days after the receipt of all necessary information from the NHL related thereto): (a) a balance sheet relating to Arena Facility operations as to the end of such Fiscal Year, (b) a statement of profit or less for Arena Facility operations during such Fiscal Year, and (c) a statement of charge of financial condition for Arena Facility operations during such Fiscal Year, each prepared in accordance with GAAP as consistently applied (if there are multiple interpretations of the application of GAAP, GAAP as traditionally interpreted by the Arena Manager and the Team Owner shall apply) (collectively, the “Annual Financial Reports”), and accompanied by a report containing an opinion of the Arena Manager’s accountants, stating that such Annual Financial Reports relate, that such Annual Financial Reports have been prepared in accordance with GAAP as consistently applied and that the examination by the Arena Manager’s accountants in connection with such financial reports was made in accordance with GAAP.” The agreement then states in 8.17.1. Audits, “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 the City Staff or by an independent certified public accounting firm selected by the City.”

The City should have received an Interim Audit about October 1, 2014. Instead it received the Final Audit on March 13, 2015, five months late. On November 4, 2014 in anticipation of receiving the expected Audit, the City hired Proeminent Sports, LLC, and a Nevada limited liability company, to audit the information IceArizona was supposed to provide in a timely fashion and to present its findings by December 15, 2014.

Note that the City’s expectation was that the audit would take about Coyotes Audit contract_Page_26 weeks, not months and months and months. Tony Tavares, former president of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks and Los Angeles Angels and Managing Member of Proeminent Sports, is the lead in conducting the audit. Tavares just happened to have been involved with Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf in 2011 when Reinsdorf was trying to purchase the Coyotes from the NHL. Is there any conflict of interest?

On March 13, 2015 the media began sharing leaked results of the audit. Since the city has not publicly posted the audit results the leaking appeared to have been on the IceArizona side. What has been reported by some media traditionally sympathetic to the Coyotes is a total loss figure of $34,831,000.  It breaks out into operating losses of $16,458,000 and one time charges of $18,373,000. Their argument is that one should only look at the operating losses of nearly $16.5 million dollars and should not consider the nearly $18.4 million dollars in additional losses because they are one time charges and will not recur. They are correct in stating those specific charges will not recur but it is reasonable to assume that there will be other, onetime charges each and every year. While they will not be the specific ones attributed to this Fiscal Year, there are bound to be other onetime charges annually.

I attended the Blackhawks game last week and couldn’t help but notice that the majority of attendees were Hawks fans. The robust chants for the Hawks in our house were downright embarrassing. It appeared as if nearly every Coyotes ticket holder had sold their seats to Hawks fans. With a team that is not performing well it is not surprising to see the fan base shrink. Fans are fickle. Everyone loves a winner…a losing team? Not so much.  It may well be that operations and team revenue earnings will reflect this downward trend this Fiscal Year.

That brings us to the troublesome “out” clause that IceArizona may exercise after 5 years of losses totaling $50 million dollars or more. There has been considerable past discussion that lingers to this day over that particular clause. Many fans asked why the stipulation was necessary if the owners’ intent is to keep the team in Arizona. Others, from the Glendale resident side, called for the very same stipulation for the city. Quietly, oh so quietly, the IceArizona owners retained the “out” clause and the city never received such a stipulation in its favor. Is it any wonder that speculation about the owners’ long term intent has surfaced again upon learning that first year losses are $38.4 million dollars? After all, that figure is more than half of the $50 million dollars required in demonstrated loss before the owners can exercise the “out” clause.  

In a March 13, 2015 Craig Morgan story for FoxSports Arizona CEO Anthony LeBlanc stated, Naysayers will try and bring up the out clause at every opportunity… It leads to a simple question: If the franchise is successful financially, why would you even consider exercising it? The out clause was a protection mechanism.” The better question is…if the franchise is successful financially, why are you, Mr. LeBlanc et.al, keeping it? There would be no speculation every time Las Vegas or Seattle is mentioned if there was no “out” clause.

© Joyce Clark, 2015


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