Last week there were reports of optimism being up in Phoenix regarding the sale of the Coyotes that has been in the works for about three years. I wondered if perhaps it wasn't a move in response to Seattle's arena announcement.
As the Magic 8-Ball says, sources say no. There was some real substance. And by sources I mean Mike Sunnucks of the Phoenix Business Journal.
The National Hockey League is close to putting the finishing touches on a sale of the Phoenix Coyotes hockey franchise to a group led by former San Jose Sharks CEO Greg Jamison. That sale would keep the team playing in the Phoenix market.
The deal still has go through final approvals and due diligence as well as through the city of Glendale which owns Jobing.com Arena. But Jamison, the NHL and Glendale are close to a final deal, according to sources familiar with the hockey team.
The NHL is trying to keep the sale price at $170 million in part to help the value of other franchises. The league bought the Coyotes out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009 for $140 million.
Now we've been to this point in the past regarding the sale of the Coyotes. Remember how close things were with Matthew Hulsizer at one point? However this is the first time for the group led by Jamison who, with due respect to Hulsizer, appears to have his p's and q's covered a little better.
The other interesting aspect of Sunnucks' report is this little tidbit.
The deal being hatched with Jamison could include some rebates and a fund to help cover the team’s financial losses. The Coyotes lose $20 million to $25 million annually.
That would help explain why somebody would be willing to invest in an organization that bleeds money. However it also brings up the concern that derailed the Hulsizer bid, the watchdog group Goldwater Institute. How many concessions can the city of Glendale give while avoiding their threat of a lawsuit?
At this point, fans in the desert will run with any good news they hear. It's getting down to the wire and this appears to be the most promising point in the negotiations in a long, long time. But hold the celebration (or anger if you're one of those who really wants to see the Coyotes moved) and wait for an official announcement. Too often these deals can fall through and we've already seen it in Phoenix.
But this from Scott Burnside of ESPN.com later on Tuesday is a perfect reminder not to count the chickens before they hatch, particularly with the Phoenix situation.
We are told that suggestion that Coyotes sale is close to being done "very, very premature." In short, status quo.— Scott Burnside (@ESPN_Burnside) February 21, 2012
Everybody has to be glad this is winding down, one way or the other. It's been far too long that the Coyotes have been in this state of limbo but the league has proven at every turn to be hellbent on keeping the team in the desert.