Ice Edge signs agreement on new lease

Updated: April 9, 2010, 8:28 PM ET
By Scott Burnside | ESPN.com

The Phoenix Coyotes' ownership situation should come into focus Tuesday when the City of Glendale is expected to vote on two lease proposals.

Ice Edge Holdings and Glendale Hockey, a group that includes Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, signed Memorandums of Understanding with the City of Glendale on Friday on potential lease agreements that would expand revenue streams for the franchise and the municipality. The council will vote on the proposals Tuesday.

Proposals from Ice Edge Holdings and Glendale Hockey were previously approved in principle in an in-camera session that was the first step toward putting the proposals before the full council for a vote.

"We are pleased that we have been able to take this first step with the city," Anthony LeBlanc, CEO of Ice Edge Holdings, wrote in an email to ESPN.com Friday.

"The highlights of our MOU with Glendale include new revenue streams that are standard within the NHL, as well as maintaining the remaining timeframe on the original lease. Ice Edge has not asked for an out clause. We are committed to keeping this team in Arizona for the long term."

The Glendale Hockey bid asks for an out clause if the franchise does not turn around financially in five years. The team has lost an estimated $300 million since moving to the desert from Winnipeg in 1996. They have, however, had success on the ice and will have home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs next week. It will be the team's first postseason appearance since 2002.

NHL officials would not comment on Tuesday's vote but sources tell ESPN.com that it is possible the Glendale City Council could vote to approve both lease proposals and the NHL would then be in a position to choose between the two ownership groups.

The league's transitional lease with Glendale runs out June 30 and they would like a new owner in place by that time. Reports out of Canada indicate Canadian businessman David Thomson has had discussions about the possibility of moving the Coyotes back to Winnipeg if the deal to keep the team in Phoenix falls apart.

Presumably the NHL will be looking at financing -- reports have suggested Ice Edge does not have the necessary financing although LeBlanc and other officials have repeatedly told ESPN.com that money is the least of their worries -- and commitment to keeping the team in Phoenix long term.

Contrary to some reports the Ice Edge lease proposal still includes playing a handful of games in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in Canada to help generate revenue for the franchise. Whether they could move ahead with that plan would be dictated by the NHL's Board of Governors assuming the proposal is supported by Glendale first.

Scott Burnside covers the NHL for ESPN.com.

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