GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Phoenix Coyotes have taken a major step toward securing an owner.
All that’s left is one last hurdle.
Glendale’s City Council voted late Tuesday night in favour of a reworked, $320 million arena management deal with Greg Jamison, clearing the way for the former San Jose Sharks CEO to complete his purchase of the team from the NHL.
“The affirmative vote by the Glendale City Council is an important step toward the realization of a positive ownership resolution for the Coyotes and their fans,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement Wednesday. “The National Hockey League looks forward to working with Greg Jamison to complete the sale process as expeditiously as possible.”
The City Council approved a 20-year, $324 million deal for Jobing.com Arena in June, but, faced with growing financial constraints, city leaders sought to renegotiate the deal.
The council voted 4-2 in favour of the new deal, which cuts back Glendale’s payments in the first five years, gives Jamison incentives to bring in more non-hockey events and issues penalties if there is an NHL lockout. The current lockout is in its 11th week and has wiped out more than 400 regular-season games, along with the NHL All-Star game.
The new arena deal requires Jamison to complete his purchase of the team from the NHL by Jan. 21, 2013, a deadline he was confident would be met.
“I know they (city leaders) want closure very badly and so do I and the rest of the group,” Jamison said after the meeting Tuesday night. “We’re confident we can get there.”
It’s been a long wait.
The Coyotes have been run by the NHL the past three seasons, since former owner Jerry Moyes took the team into bankruptcy in 2009. The team still managed to be successful on the ice despite financial limitations, reaching the playoffs all three years, including the franchise’s first trip to the Western Conference finals in 2011-12.
The Coyotes have had several potential suitors in that time and a deal with Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer appeared to be in place last year before the conservative watchdog group Goldwater Institute killed it by warning potential bond buyers to stay away from the Glendale offering because of a looming lawsuit.
Goldwater tried to stop the deal with Jamison, but the City Council voted in favour of the lease agreement during the summer and Glendale voters in November’s election upheld a 0.7 per cent sales tax increase designed to help the city’s finances.
With the council agreeing to the reworked arena agreement, Jamison must now complete his deal with the NHL and gain approval from the league’s board of governors.
“We’re here, we’re excited about some NHL hockey, we’re looking forward to the lockout being over and we’re also looking forward to the future,” Jamison said. “We believe strongly not only in the product, we believe strongly in the community, we believe strongly in the Valley and we think basically this a good place to be, a good place to have a team and the future looks bright.”