After four long years and one more night of a long council meeting, it looks like the Coyotes are staying in Arizona.
The City of Glendale had a call to vote on a proposed lease agreement with the Renaissance Sports & Entertainment group that has a deal in place to buy the Coyotes from the NHL. After a long debate and public comments, the council put the lease to vote and it passed but by only a 4-3 margin.
Now with a lease in place, it opens the door for the RSE group to complete its purchase and finally take the franchise out of the NHL's hands and give it some stability. The sale has to be finalized by Aug. 5 before this approved lease will expire. Last time Glendale passed a proposed lease, the sale didn't go through. That doesn't seem to be a problem this time around.
In other words, very soon we should get the official word that the Coyotes are staying in Glendale for the foreseeable future. The only thing that dies is Phoenix being attached to their names. From here on out, they will be the Arizona Coyotes.
The lease calls for Glendale to pay $15 million annually to help run the team. In the lease there are revenue streams that will divert back to the city that will not cover the entire cost, but is projected to come out at $9 million for the city. Glendale had planned for a $6 million investment yearly so the revenues are designed to keep it that way. Concerns centered around the fact that there's no guarantee that number will be met and the city could be on the hook for more money it doesn't have budgeted.
There is an out-clause in the deal that allows for RSE to relocate the franchise after five years if its debt totals $50 million or more. The belief is that with stable ownership, that won't be an issue.
The long meeting included about an hourlong session of public comments that were mostly entertaining. The majority of the people in attendance were wearing Coyotes gear and even gave Gary Bettman a standing ovation when he entered the building. One speaker said "I trust Gary Bettman," a rather shocking statement to people in the other 29 NHL cities and the ones the NHL has left behind. It was all part of what can be described as a show, albeit a very important one.
There was also a councilmember who made a comparison to RSE entering this situation to firefighters. In lieu of the recent tragedy and the fact that the councilmember himself was a fireman, it struck a bad chord for some. City councils at work are always interesting.
Now with that cleared up, we can finally focus on the actual hockey team in Arizona again. This stability should prove helpful to GM Don Maloney and coach Dave Tippett in moving forward and trying to get the team back to the playoffs.