After Coyotes split, Gretzky to retain minority stake
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Two owners of the Phoenix Coyotes are splitting their partnership in the parent company of the NHL team and the Westgate City Center development complex around Glendale Arena.
Coyotes Holdings majority investor Jerry Moyes will run the team and Steve Ellman, a developer with a 25 percent ownership interest, will take control of the planned Westgate mega-retail project that is two years behind schedule.
"Today, I'm going to exit the public spotlight," Ellman said at a Glendale Arena news conference Wednesday.
Moyes, former chief executive of Phoenix-based Swift Transportation Co. Inc., has been the financial muscle for the Coyotes and Westgate, investing roughly $241 million of his personal wealth into Coyotes Holdings, according to public records.
Moyes, Ellman and Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky joined to buy the team in 2001 for about $125 million. Gretzky, who will continue to have a minority ownership in both ventures, said after the news conference that he will decide shortly after the season whether to return as coach next year.
Moyes is also a limited partner in the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Flashing his 2001 World Series championship ring, Moyes said, "Wayne, we're not going to be satisfied until we get another one of these rings, all right?"
Gretzky, who stood in the back of the room, smiled at the remark.
The franchise, which moved to the Valley from Winnipeg in 1996, has never won a Stanley Cup, and the Coyotes have made the playoffs only once since Moyes, Ellman and Gretzky bought the team. Phoenix won't make the playoffs this season.
Asked if he had a timeframe for winning a title, Moyes said, "Within the next four-five years, I think that we should have one."
Jeff Shumway, a former corporate lawyer, Phoenix native and Moyes' personal attorney, was named Coyotes chief executive officer. Shumway, who has no hockey experience, will become the team's governor, giving him day-to-day control of the team.
"I have about 20 other companies," Moyes said. "Therefore, I'm not going to be real hands-on."
Shumway said the team's management would remain in place, with Doug Moss as president, Michael Barnett as general manager and Cliff Fletcher as vice president of hockey operations.
Ellman will remain chairman of the board and governor until the NHL board of governors approves the ownership change.
Ellman will pay an undisclosed sum to Moyes as they divide the assets. He declined to comment on an Arizona Republic report that the figure could approach $100 million.
The deal also gives Moyes the arena management business, which under Ellman brought in some of the biggest concert acts in the world, along with future arena naming rights and the Arizona Sting pro indoor lacrosse team.
Moyes also assumes the Coyotes' debt, which is about $65 million.
Ellman denied reports that the move represents a split between the partners.
"There's no split," he said. "Westgate and the arena, it's still together. They're still dependent on each other's success. We're still part of each other's business futures."
"We were able to split our businesses," Ellman said. "We'll take real estate and Jerry will take sports."
Ellman said he would obtain financing to finish Westgate, which will be roughly 6.5 million square feet over 223 acres. Westgate's first phase is set to open this fall with 500,000 square feet of shops, restaurants, loft office space and a 20-screen movie theater.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
MORE NHL HEADLINES
- Avs goalie Varlamov has charges dropped
- Capitals' Ovechkin scores 400th career goal
- Vanek lifts Islanders past slumping Rangers
- Rinne's recovery from hip infection delayed
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
- Reebok Men's Phoenix Coyotes Basic Logo White Adjustable Hat