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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

Late on Friday, April 4, 2013, Craig Morgan, who covers sports for Fox Sports Arizona among a growing list of other media, did an outstanding job of summarizing the recent Coyotes saga. To read his entire article, please go to http://www.foxsportsarizona.com/nhl/phoenix-coyotes/story/Coyotes-ownership-saga-hits-stretch-run?blockID=889001&feedID=3702.


George Gosbee


Anthony LeBlanc

I have chosen some of the most salient snippets for further commentary. He said, “The group led by George Gosbee and Anthony LeBlanc has already submitted its purchase bid to the NHL, and Darin Pastor’s group submitted the paperwork for its proposal to the league on Friday. Greg Jamison’s group is still working on a proposal, but it is expected that they will submit it by the middle of next week, likely under pressure of an imposed NHL deadline.”


Darrin Pastor


Greg Jamison

The latest rumors say the LeBlanc/Gosbee deal is for 15 years, with no opt-out clause and an option to buy the arena. There is no word on the kind of deal submitted by the Pastor group. That’s odd after his flurry of recent publicity. I am especially gratified to see that Greg Jamison is still a player. I must admit that I hope he prevails. I have met him and talked to him in depth and it is still my belief that this man is a perfect fit for the Coyotes. Morgan offers that Matt Hulsizer may still be in the hunt as well. Maybe…maybe not. Mr. Hulsizer, a successful businessman, married into a family of wealth. They were willing to support him on his first attempt to buy the Coyotes…and why not? A hundred million dollars would have come from the City of Glendale. Yes, the family investment was still healthy but not as much was on the line as the city’s investment under Hulsizer. My guess is that there is no will to continue on the part of the family. I could be wrong for I have proven so in the past but somehow or another, I am willing to write him off.

Mr. Morgan then goes on to say, “What is likely to happen soon is that the NHL will choose an exclusive buyer, then approach Glendale to negotiate the lease agreement. The Glendale City Council hired Beacon Sports Capital in late March to solicit bids from management companies to run the arena, as well as to handle negotiations with any prospective owners.”


Gary Bettman

This confirms my assessment in previous blogs that the League is in the driver’s seat this time. They will choose the buyer and Glendale will either come to terms with that buyer or not. The option of relocation of the team is certainly not dead yet.  This council may have thrown good money after bad in hiring Beacon Sports Capital. It appears that Beacon will have no role in the process when the NHL selects the owner. There will be no one to vet. If, however, Glendale cannot or will not come to terms with the newly selected owner, Beacon will then have a role as council will most likely Mayor Weiers’ Plan B with the use of 4 managers for the arena.

In additon, Morgan states, “What that lease agreement will look like is anyone’s guess. Glendale City Councilwoman Yvonne Knaack said recently that the annual fee to the city could “be anywhere from $6 (million) to $10 million on operating, and then maybe another $9 million on debt.” 

Councilmember Sherwood publicly recognized a figure of at least $10M to $12M annually for a lease management agreement.  Vice Mayor Knaack acknowledged a similar figure as well. She is also correct about the arena construction debt of approximately $9M a year. This is where it gets dicey. Will this council accept a deal that requires a substantial annual payment along with the annual construction debt? Combining the two, the figure will be somewhere in the $20M range annually. greed 1But that requires this council to cut expenses elsewhere to absorb the costs of the deal and to continue to build a contingency reserve fund. To date there has been absolutely no will to cut by the new council. In fact, they are considering adding 15 firefighter positions and a new $650K truck and 31 police positions to this budget. They simply cannot do both – manage the annual costs associated with the arena while creating new budgetary expenditures.

Norma Alvarez

Norma Alvarez

We have heard enough from Councilmember Alvarez to know that she wants to pay nothing for the arena and I suspect she thinks there is some group out there that will pay the city for the privilege of managing the arena. Not even her beloved Phoenix Monarch Group was willing to fall for that. If you remember, their base fee was $7M for a limited number of events…read tractor pulls. Nevertheless, she stubbornly holds to that position and has even managed to elicit support from Councilmembers Hugh and Chavira. Councilmembers Martinez and Sherwood recognize the importance of keeping an anchor tenant at the arena for the future of a vibrant Westgate that attracts new development in and around it.


Yvonne Knaack


Jerry Weiers

That leaves two question marks, Vice Mayor Knaack and Mayor Weiers. Vice Mayor Knaack is on the horns of a dilemma. I suspect in her “heart of hearts” she knows that keeping the team as an anchor tenant would be the right choice. But her strongest backers, the fire union, will put tremendous pressure on her if they see their 15 additional firefighter positions and new truck evaporate in this year’s budget. Mayor Weiers, on the other hand, derided the deal the previous council had with Greg Jamison. He should be reminded that Anthony LeBlanc has said publicly that any deal with the city must be similar to the previous deal on the table with Jamison. Weiers is also looking for a deal on the cheap. It will be time for these two people to decide what is more important. Is it more important to send the team packing and leave the legacy of an uncertain future for the arena and Westgate because it’s what their supporters in their previous election now expect of them? Or is it more important to accept that for the sake of Glendale, of Westgate and of West Glendale’s future development potential that sometimes one has to make the difficult and unpopular decision? We will see…soon enough. We all hope that they realize the importance of keeping an anchor tenant at the arena.

I am pleased that this long, painful Coyotes ownership saga is coming to an end. I wish all theCoyotes logo potential owners well although I continue to root for Greg Jamison.  The Coyotes team has been beleaguered and beaten for too long. They, more than anyone or anything else, have earned certainty about their futures.



Darrin Pastor

I, just as many did, listened to the Darrin Pastor interview on Roc and Manuch, NBC Sports Radio, 1060AM on April 4, 2013.  I wish him well but as a tried and true skeptic, the jury is still out.  Let’s take a closer look at some take-aways from that interview.



Six months of due diligence

calendarPastor claimed that he has done six months of due diligence. That due diligence should have included finding out what the City of Glendale’s expectations are. This is the start of April and going back six months puts him in October, 2012. I was a councilmember until January 15, 2013, and I never heard of him until his press release of several days ago. He certainly wasn’t talking to anyone in the city. That place is like a sieve. If he had talked to anyone, it would have become common knowledge around City Hall.

Why does any deal take so long?

This must be naiveté on Pastor’s part although he is a very intelligent businessman. It comes as a bit of a surprise to hear that statement from him. Surely he’s done hundreds of deals using legal counsel and should know that lawyers tend to make everything take twice as long. He also claimed that he is using lawyers with municipal experience. So it certainly shouldn’t be a surprise to realize that working with a municipality is slow and cumbersome. It isn’t as if any one prospective deal took the entire four years that the Coyotes have been ownerless. Over those four years there has been a succession of bridesmaids but never the bride. We are all painfully familiar with the list . None of them took longer than 12-18 months before biting the dust.

Glendale is where the team is going to stay

jobing.com arena

Jobing.com Arena

We have heard that from every prospective buyer of the team. The question should be, not is the team going to stay in Glendale?… but how long will you keep the team in Glendale? There should be a ten year or better commitment before an opt-out clause is executed. That indicates a commitment to build the team and build a solid fan base. If the opt-out clause is five years or less, whoever buys the team will take the money and run…somewhere else. Better yet, would be to get an assessment from each of these would-be buyers of his estimate of how much time he feels is necessary to turn the team around and become profitable. Realistically, no prospective owner wants to commit “sports suicide” and pour money down a rat hole. Each one of them (you would think) has developed a strategy to turn the team around and become profitable.

Return on investment

ROIMr. Pastor uses “banker-ese” terms. He labels the team as an “undervalued asset.” This gentleman (and his family) didn’t become successful because of pixie dust. He is a very astute businessman. If he is successful in purchasing the team using capital from family investments, there will most definitely be an expectation of profitability down the road. Again, the question becomes how long is that road?

Where is Beacon Sports?

Mr. Pastor said directly, “Beacon Sports is not involved.” His statement should be of concern and can be interpreted several different ways. Is Beacon not involved because Pastor has no interest in managing the arena and simply wants to pay rent as a tenant? Why isn’t Beacon involved as the city hired the company to vet and to negotiate with any prospective arena manager?

Got his homework today

homeworkMr. Pastor said that he received paperwork from the NHL today and would begin working on it immediately. Good for him. If that is the case, don’t expect any quick resolution. Plan to wait a month or two. He also said he had met with and talked to Mike Nealy but that he was talking to and dealing directly with Bill Daly. I expect Mr. Daly is talking to a lot of prospective owners these days.

Mr. Pastor looks good on paper and is saying the things we all want to hear these days. Shades of Matt Hulsizer. Hulsizer went very public and was obviously an avid hockey fan but his deal went south when the Goldwater Institute questioned the city’s sale of $100M worth of bonds whose proceeds would be paid to Hulsizer. The devil is in the details…of the deal.

Mr. Pastor meets Mr. Weires

Mr. Pastor in his meeting with Mayor Weiers today characterized at least twice, the mayor as “refreshing.” Glad they enjoyed meeting with one another. If Pastor really was politically savvy or had received advice from his municipally-wise lawyers, he would have introduced himself to all of the councilmembers, remembering that Mr. Weiers is just one vote of seven.

I wish all of the prospective buyers well and would like nothing more than for someone to succeed with a long term commitment. Call me jaded. I have been “around the block” quite a few times on this issue and have seen prospective owners come and go. To date there’s been a lot of public posturing, first by LeBlanc/Gosbee, now Pastor. It’s all sound and fury signifying nothing.