GLENDALE, Ariz. – NHL commissioner Gary Bettman met with city officials on Monday to discuss the process of keeping the Phoenix Coyotes in Glendale.
“We weren’t in town to negotiate with the city of Glendale,” Bettman said before the Coyotes’ game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. “It was a session where we updated them on the process of finding a new owner.”
Neither Bettman nor a spokesman for the city elaborated on details of the meeting.
“The city of Glendale had a very positive meeting with the NHL to reaffirm the process for keeping the team in Glendale,” said Jennifer Liewer, of the city’s marketing/communication department. “It was confirmed that the parties are all on the same page and we are moving forward to secure a new owner that will keep the team playing in our city for years to come.”
The Coyotes were sold to the league two weeks ago, ending the franchise’s summerlong bankruptcy saga.
Former owner Jerry Moyes took the club into bankruptcy in May and Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie attempted to purchase the team and move it to Hamilton. But his bid – already having been rejected unanimously by the NHL’s Board of Governors – also was tossed out by U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Redfield T. Baum.
The months of uncertainty left the club in limbo – virtually unable to sell season tickets or effectively market the franchise – and the effects have been seen at the ticket windows, where the Coyotes have drawn more than 10,000 fans only four times in 10 home games entering Monday’s game.
“I don’t believe the last six months (represents) the economic reality of what this franchise can be going forward,” Bettman said. “When I see crowds of 10,000 to 12,000 some nights, that’s pretty good under the circumstances.”
Bettman said about “half a dozen” potential owners have contacted the league about purchasing the team and all are committed to keeping the team in the Phoenix area.
“Everybody we’re talking to now has the focus of keeping the team here in Glendale,” Bettman said. “That’s the purpose of this process.”