Monday, August 3, 2009

I'm Mad as...Jerry, Glendale & Jerry

First, the important stuff...the auction for the Coyotes will be moved to September 10th at 9AM. Judge Tom will rule later this week if it's a local auction only or whether out of town interests will be welcome. Everyone will be back in court Wednesday. And hopefully, a few days will allow everyone to cool off a little.

Jerry Reinsdorf is livid because some of the details of the agreement he is negotiating with Glendale were inadvertently leaked to the media. The document described several proposals that the Reinsdorf-Kaites-Tavares group has made during negotiations with Glendale on how to raise millions in team revenue. Jerry is reportedly mad enough to walk away. We'll see. If he gets anything close to the deal that was leaked to local media outlets, he would be crazy to walk away.

The City of Glendale is mad too. When proposals like this are released only the goriest details make the newspapers. The Glendale representatives are livid because it "undermines the ability to get a deal negotiated with any bidder", according to their court brief. And of course, they lay the blame for the leak squarely at the feet of Jerry Moyes.

Jerry Moyes is mad too. Of course, he hasn't been very happy for a long time now. Maybe he should pay more attention to what he is buying in the future. He knows he won't see another dime if the team is sold to local interests and he is trying to salvage any money he can from this wreck. He may be a lifelong resident and supporter of Glendale but he is doing everything in his power to see the Coyotes leave Arizona. He watched last week as the NHL voted 29-0 to deny approval of Jim Balsillie as a potential owner. He knows that if a vote was ever held on moving the team to Hamilton, it would be an even longer shot. Dan Bickley had a great line today; "Moyes has a puncher's chance" of winning any type of favorable judgement. Yep, just like Oscar Bonavita had against Muhammed Ali.

No word whether Balsillie is mad but after being scorched by the NHL Governors, he can't be too thrilled. Aside from the unanimous vote, some of the quotes that have made their way into print have been pointed and nasty. Balsillie's chance of owning an NHL team depend strictly on Judge Tom's willingness to cram a sale down the leagues throat and force a move to Hamilton. Good luck Jim. If that ever did happen, the only happy people would be the lawyers who would get rich litigating this case for the next several years.

Meanwhile, no on has heard whether the folks at Ice Edge are mad too. It wouldn't surprise me though.

The leaked filings contained two controversial provisions; a special taxing district that would provide as much as $23 million next fiscal year through a "voluntary" surcharge on retail sales and a $15 million payment to the Coyotes against losses for each year of losses after 5 years. It's impossible to judge those ideas without understanding the full context of the plan. Neither sounds very plausible but keep in mind they are pieces pulled out of a document, not the entire plan. We'll wait until a more complete agreement between Glendale and the local bidders surfaces before passing judgement. And keep in mind, any deal would require approval by the elected members of the Glendale City Council.

Also remember that what sounds incredible may still be the best possible result for Glendale. The team is in bankruptcy and the City needs to make some accommodations to help the franchise. Doing nothing is not an alternative. The downside is an empty building that would be a aesthetic and financial disaster. This may be a place where half a loaf is better than crumbs and table scraps.

A couple of other points to share...

I can dispel one rumor that surfaced in a local publication today. The Coyotes didn't just go up for sale after the start of the 2008-09 season. The team was quietly shopped for at least 15 months prior to the bankruptcy. In March of 2008, I was introduced to the owner of a junior hockey franchise who knew I had a background in hockey and was moving to Phoenix. During the course of the conversation I was asked a number of questions about the Coyotes and my perception of their marketing and business practices. The individual in question told me that he could only share certain information because he had signed a non-disclosure agreement pertaining to the possible purchase and sale of a National Hockey League team. His clear inference (and the only reason he would have called me) was that it was the Coyotes.

And for people who wonder why does Jerry Reinsdorf want the Coyotes, the answer is almost certainly his son Michael. Michael has spent the last few years as the owner and operator of the wildly successful Stockton Thunder of the ECHL. We all would do anything for our kids. Why not set him up with a National Hockey League team?

This is all getting to be very old. Rather than wondering who will be playing on the second line or pondering another free agent signing, legal talk continues to hover over the team. The September 10th auction will come right as training camp is starting. I wonder who will be coaching the team that day.

And I wonder if anyone will be buying a ticket or a sponsorship until this is settled.


  1. I'd like to know who was the guy who owned the hockey team that called you.