What in the world is going on in Glendale?

I know several of my readers have been following the Coyotes situation for years but to someone just jumping into might struggle with making sense of it all.

So let’s step back and lay out how we got here:

  • Phoenix Coyotes filed bankruptcy – May 2009
  • NHL settles with Jerry Moyes to take legal control of the Coyotes and assumes all debt – Fall 2009
  • NHL enters active negotiations with Reinsdorf and Ice Edge Holdings  – 2009 to first half of 2010
  • Both Reinsdorf and Ice Edge fail to purchase team and drop out of negotiations – Summer 2010
  • NHL approves the sale of Phoenix Coyotes to investor group led by Matthew Hulsizer – December 2010
  • Hulsizer abandoned his bid for the Coyotes – June 2011
  • Jamison group emerges as the latest group to pursue the Coyotes – August 2011
  • NHL announces tentative agreement with Jamison Group – May 2012
  • Jamison Group agrees to (but does not sign) lease agreement with the city of Glendale – June 2012

(note I am tyring to simplify here and for every bullet, there is about 5 sub bullets)

Ok…that’s the background. In June, the Glendale City Council also approved a sales tax increase that is estimated to raise 22Million for the city. Why is that important to the Coyotes situation? Well, the original lease agreement that the City and Jamison agreed to called for a the city to pay the Jamison group 17 Million a year to operate the jobing.com arena. In effect, the sales tax increase in city revenue was going to help pay for that arena management fee.

Since June, the sales tax increase was challenged by citizens and is now on the ballot in November. This has caused the city council to figure out a contingency plans to come up with the additional 22Million should the sales tax hike get overturned(overturn = a pass of prop 457).  Most of hearings and debates are focused on cutting public services but the Arena deal also gets weaved into the conversation since that is such an easy and big target. To make this muddier than it already is, the City Manager that lead negotiations with Jamison in June has left and a temporary city manager, Horacio Skeete. Skeete was asked to go back to Jamison to rework the deal because of fear of the tax hike and although not explicitly, the impacts to the lockout. Jamison and Skeete have reworked the deal to lower the operating fee the first few years from 11M (originally 17 Mil) and ramping to 16M in year 5. The city council has not approved this deal and has requested some public feedback. Oh and by the way, the Mayor seat is up for election which makes the Sales Tax hike and Arena deal front and center on the issues. Neither candidate is fond of the how the Sales Tax increase was implemented but the city is in a financial mess so hard decisions needed to be made. It isn’t easy to figure out how the candidate will address the issue when voted in but that issue should be resolved by the time they take office.

It is a little shocking to me that the city is willing to fork out 15+Million a year to the Jamison group to run the arena. From one of the recent city council meetings, the city would lose 2.5 Million in sales tax revenue should the arena close all together. So right now, we don’t have an approved lease agreement with the Jamison group which also begs the question if Jamison can raise the money under these less favorable terms when just 3 months ago he was allegedly struggling to find investors.

How this thing ends is anyone’s guess. Things will get clearer in November but we have this whole lockout thing going on that probably makes and prospective NHL Franchise owner a little skittish. 8 months ago this franchise seemed destined for Quebec City but I’ve probably said that several times over the last few years.

Now I am not rooting against Glendale keeping the team and I feel for the fans first in this whole mess. In spite of all the haters and traditionalists out there, I am convinced hockey can work in non-traditional places, look at Nashville, Carolina and Dallas for examples. But there is a time where someone must realize that businesses might not work in certain locations, even Starbucks and McDonalds need to close certain locations.

Islanders on the block?

As I’ve said here many times, the Islanders are a franchise to watch over the next few years. On September 14th, I mentioned that Wang probably wants to sell the Islanders as one of the reasons for the Islanders potential Relo candidate. Well it looks like Wang is shopping the Islanders around. The New York post has an excellent article on the rumor here.

As the article states, the asking price of Wang is alegedly around 300M which is an asking price that is double the value Forbes estimated last year. It is also close to 3 times the price of the Atlanta Thrashers were sold to True North that moved the team to Winnipeg. Wang is probably early on in this process and might be using this as a scare tactic to Nassau County officials. If the team is sold to a group that consists of LaFontaine, a relo becomes unlikley being that he lives on Long Island. He might be the Lemieux of this ownership group that comes in as the face of the organization when working with city and county officals to get an arena subsidies.

The bottom line…Wang might have put this team on the market but might be setting his price way too high at this point considering the Coyotes still can’t seem to find a buyer.