After a three-year tumultuous battle that included bankruptcy, failed negotiations and relocation threats, the Phoenix Coyotes are on the verge of having a new owner.
Both NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and Greg Jamison himself were on hand as the Glendale city council voted 4-2 in favor of the $325 taxpayer-funded agreement Friday.
According to the Arizona Republic, the 20-year lease agreement will pay Jamison's group $325 million to operate and make improvements on the arena.
While 'Yotes fans are ecstatic that the team is staying in town, some are questioning if the city of Glendale can afford to keep the Coyotes.
The positives of this deal are obvious. The Pacific Division champion Coyotes will call Jobing.com home for years to come, and hopefully make another deep run in the playoffs in 2013. The now generations of Coyotes fans can hang onto their Doan, Smith and Hanzal jerseys and wear them proudly.
Greg Jamison has a great track record, with his most recent success being in San Jose. If anyone can turn the franchise around it's him, and with his guiding hand even Westgate should begin to flourish in the way imagined when it was built in 2006.
If the Coyotes run in the playoffs and the record attendance figures taught us anything it is that hockey is alive and well in the desert.
Profitable is a whole different issue though.
It has been documented that the team has been losing money every year and in 2012 the Coyotes ghastly regular season attendance numbers (12,420 per game, 72.5 percent of the building). The Coyotes were by far the worst team in terms of attendance this year.
Even former owner Jerry Moyes is skeptical of the Coyotes working in the desert saying, "I don't think it's going to work," he said of hockey in Arizona. "You just look at the economics, it just won't work. We have so many other sports activities to take not only the advertising dollar, but the consumer dollar."
To look at the glass half-full, this could be because of the ownership issues. Fans did not want to get behind a team if they were not certain they would be here in the long run. If the Jamison group does indeed buy the team, hopefully the attendance numbers will improve.
Another issue is that the city of Glendale is already having budget issues. This deal could literally cripple the city if the Coyotes cannot be successful in Glendale. The Goldwater Institute, a watchdog group, has been trying to deter the sale of the Coyotes.
They said the following regarding the sale:
"Tomorrow morning the City of Glendale plans to consider what is estimated to be a $425 million arena management deal for Jobing.com Arena. Arizona's Open Meetings Law and multiple court orders require the city to make public all documents related to the proposed contract at least 24 hours before a Council vote is taken, which it has not done. The 100-page deal released on Monday refers to a number of exhibits that are central to analyzing the impact of the deal on Glendale's finances, which the city must make public. Per respecting Open Meetings Law requirements, the Goldwater Institute will be requesting a temporary restraining order to prevent the Glendale City Council from voting on the contract Friday morning."
Goldwater's request to block the vote was denied by the City Friday, but the group says that they will be challenging Glendale's involvement with the team. Yet another hurdle for the franchise to overcome.
Each of these steps is a small one. While the vote should bring some hope to Coyote fans, don't take it as a slam dunk success.
Some reports are saying that Jamison does not have the full amount of money to buy the team yet, and the NHL has not officially announced the approval of Jamison as an owner.
With the sale of the Coyotes it is safe to say nothing will be easy.
Is keeping the Coyotes in Glendale the best option?
Yes (21 votes)
No (33 votes)
54 total votes