If you’ve had a lifelong dream of owning a hockey team, this may be your lucky day!
[photogallerylink id=48081 align=left]The Phoenix Coyotes are STILL looking for someone to buy the team. Looks like the guy who was supposed to buy it just backed out of the deal
(Courtesy of Lisa Halverstadt – Arizona Republic)
Bill Daly, deputy commissioner of the NHL, said Monday that he understood Matthew Hulsizer had pulled his bid and that Glendale, which owns the Coyotes’ home arena and depends on the team to lease it, would pursue another deal “with one or more other potential purchasers.”
Brad Goldberg, a spokesman for the Hulsizer group, would not comment. A Glendale spokeswoman said only that the city is negotiating and exploring its options.
In May 2009, the Coyotes’ former owner put the team into bankruptcy, saying he couldn’t keep losing money, and the NHL subsequently took over ownership. Since then, some have speculated the team could return to Canada, but the league and the city have sought a new buyer willing to keep the team in Arizona.
The city in May pledged another $25 million to the NHL to keep the team in Glendale through next season. The city had paid that same amount in 2010.
Any deal with a new buyer will depend on an agreement with Glendale. A new owner would likely want a better arena lease to help right the team’s finances. The city needs the revenue to continue making bond payments on its $180 million cost to open the arena in 2003.
Glendale and Hulsizer thought they had struck a deal six months ago, when the city agreed to pay the Chicago businessman $197 million over five years. That would have helped Hulsizer pay the NHL’s $170 million asking price.
But the Goldwater Institute threatened a lawsuit, saying the deal amounted to an illegal subsidy.
Hulsizer, a Chicago businessman and former college hockey player, continued to work with Glendale and Goldwater to reach a deal and pledged to keep the team in Arizona if his offer was approved.
Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs said Hulsizer called council members early last week to emphasize his commitment and tell them he would abandon his deal if negotiations were opened to others.
Council members received a detailed closed-door briefing on negotiations last Tuesday, although they were mum on whose deals were discussed.
A source close to the deal said Hulsizer pulled out later in the week as the city invited other buyers to the negotiating table.
Hulsizer is not the first buyer to give up pursuit of the team. The latest turn mirrors June 2010, when Jerry Reinsdorf walked away from his offer to purchase the Coyotes as the city courted him and another buyers group.
Scruggs acknowledged her frustration Monday.
“I think there’s some reason to question how these potential buyers and bids are being handled with repetitive situations,” she said.
The names of potential buyers other than Hulsizer have not been released, and Scruggs said last week that even she had not heard them.
“That’s the level of secrecy or confidentiality that we’re talking about,” she said.
City Manager Ed Beasley, along with key executives including the city attorney, oversee negotiations.
Some council members came out of last week’s closed-door meeting hopeful for a deal by the end of summer.
The exit of Hulsizer raises doubts for fans who have begged for a resolution. “We’re all just really numb and frustrated,” said John Glenn, an eight-year season-ticket holder.
Goldwater attorney Nick Dranias was less convinced about Hulsizer’s decision to pull out.
“All this could just be typical, bizarre haggling,” Dranias said. “They could all be . . . trying to manipulate the situation.”