That didn’t take long: Word broke late on Friday that the city of Glendale and the Phoenix Coyotes had agreed on a framework for a new arena lease that had “bridged a $9 million annual gap” between the $15 million a year that the team was demanding in order to stay put and the $6 million a year that the city was offering. According to Fox Sports Arizona, citing “multiple sources”:
it is believed Renaissance Sports and Entertainment, the ownership group headed by George Gosbee and Anthony LeBlanc that already has a purchase agreement with the NHL, was able to find multiple Coyotes-related revenue streams for Glendale that will provide the city between $8 million and $11 million annually on a 15-year lease.
What “Coyotes-related revenue streams means is anybody’s guess: It could be anything from an actual new share of hockey revenue (doubtful, because it’s not really $15 million a year in lease subsidies if the team is giving the city money to pay itself with) to something along the lines of “Hey, we found a consultant who’ll say that having a hockey team to talk about makes people more productive at work, so let’s count all that money as being due to the Coyotes, okay?” One possible upside: Glendale appears to have gotten the new Coyotes owners to agree to stay put for 15 years, up from just a few years in their initial plan, though if the city would really be on the hook for $15 million a year of subsidies, having to pay it out for even longer might not actually be a positive.
More details of the lease proposal should be clearer by tomorrow, when it’s expected to be reviewed by the Glendale council tomorrow; a vote could possibly voted on the following Tuesday, though that’s not a given. The NHL Board of Governors meets two days after that, and commissioner Gary Bettman has been actively using that date as a threat, adding to his backhanded threat that the team could move an additional, even more backhanded threat that the team could be put on hiatus for a year:
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman didn’t deny that the Coyotes — a franchise that has been under league control for three years — could go on hiatus.
“There are a myriad of options,” Bettman told reporters before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final at United Center on Wednesday. “Obviously we’ll have lots of choices, options and decisions. At the time, if we get to that point, and hopefully we won’t, then we’ll focus on which one is the best.”
It seems inconceivable that the league would effectively contract by one team for a season — not only would it throw the schedule into disarray, but it would presumably need to be negotiated with the players’ union, since the league would be eliminating jobs — but, hey, why turn down a good threat when one is handed to you? Bettman was more direct about alluding to the possibility of moving the Coyotes, telling reporters, “There are a number of markets that have been expressing interest to us over the years. The phone keeps ringing more regularly the longer that the Coyotes situation stays unresolved. Based on the dates we just happened to talk about with the previous question, it’s causing the phone to ring even more.” Of course, all those phone calls may not have come with offers of $15 million annual checks, which is just one thing that Glendale officials are going to need to consider over the next week.