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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.


       There has been a lot of chatter lately among hockey fans that keeping the team for 5 years is better than losing the team now. For rabid hockey fans such a thought should be anathema.  Why?
A little review of history first. In future blogs at “Joyce Clark Unfiltered” a more complete history will be offered.  In 2001 the City entered into a series of agreements with Coyotes Center Development

Steve Ellman LLC (Mr. Steve Ellman). The City’s clear intent was to build an arena to host the Phoenix Coyotes Hockey team which had been purchased by Mr. Ellman. There was no management fee in this agreement. In 2005 Mr. Ellman sold the team to Mr. Jerry Moyes. There was still no management fee as Mr. Moyes bought the team under the existing agreements with the City of Glendale.

In Spring-Summer 2009 Mr. Moyes wanted the agreements renegotiated with the City to include a management fee of approximately $12 million a year or he would dmoyeseclare bankruptBalsilliecy. The City declined and Mr. Moyes declared bankruptcy. He tried to convince the City to support the sale of the team to Mr. Jim Balsillie of RIM with relocation of the team to Canada and to accept nominal annual payments from him. The City refused and consequently in May of 2010 the NHL bought the team out of bankruptcy. For the first time the City would be required to pay a management fee and in the case of the NHL, that figure was $25M a year.
In April and June of 2010 the City entered into Memoranda of Understandings with theLeblanc Reinsdorf Group and Anthony LeBlanc of Ice Edge. Neither of these potential deals could

reinsdorfbe negotiated to all parties’ satisfaction.  Each of these parties was seeking an arena management fee in the $17 million range and each wanted an “opt out” clause of 5 years.


In February to June 2011, the City was ready to finalize a deal with Mr. Matthew Hulsizer of Coyotes Newco LLC. This deal also contained an “opt out” clause of 5 years. This new deal would have required the City to purchase parking rights from Coyotes Newco at a cost of approximately $100 M. It failed only in part due to the Goldwater Institute’s assertion that the City would be in violation of the state gift clause.


In the fall of 2011 through January 31, 2013, the City entered into an MOU and serious negotiations with Mr. Greg Jamison of Hockey Partners LLC. It was a deal that was good for Glendale, the NHL and the team. It kept the team in Glendale for 20 years, the annual management fee was $12M, there was an option to buy the arena and it contained penalty and incentive provisions.  It failed because Mr. Jamison could not meet the City deadline for completion.I will offer more about this situation in a future blog at “Joyce Clark Unfiltered.” Lately there has been talk of “mystery buyers” with “deep pockets” from Gallacher to LeBlanc. 



Ever since the arena was built I have talked to team owners of various sports. Universally the consensus has been that it takes a minimum of 10 years to build a solid fan base. Their general opinion has been that if anyone offered less than the 10 years then that entity is not serious about staying.
Coyotes fans should  not be willing to settle for a deal that only keeps the team in Arizona for 5 years knowing that it is not a good deal for the team, the NHL or the City of Glendale. How can a fan emotionally invest in a team knowing that it is destined to leave? Fans should be supportive of a deal that keeps the Coyotes here long-term. After all, in the last 18 months the emotional, physical and financial fan investment in this team has been greater than that of any fan in the NHL. It’s time for surety through permanence for everyone.