- Scott Burnside, NHL
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A prospective owner of the Phoenix Coyotes, Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer, has put $25 million towards the purchase price of the troubled team into an escrow account, a source has confirmed to ESPN.com.
However, the $25 million, essentially a show of good faith and evidence of Hulsizer's financial wherewithal, has nothing to do with a separate $25 million the City of Glendale has promised to the National Hockey League to cover costs of operating the team while a new lease agreement with the city and an ownership deal with the NHL can be completed.
The City of Glendale issued a release late Friday that suggested otherwise.
The release said the new escrow account established by a potential owner "shows the City has met the NHL deadline for finding a qualified buyer, who will keep the team here, a requirement to release the City's $25 million currently in escrow."
Yet multiple sources say that is not the case.
Hulsizer's escrow amount has nothing to do with the city's agreement to pay operating costs to the NHL only the eventual purchase price of the team. The City of Glendale has no access to the new $25 million account, multiple sources told ESPN.com.
No deal has been struck between Hulsizer, who was not named in the press release, and the city for the businessman to take over Glendale's responsibilities to the NHL, another source told ESPN.com.
Hulsizer and the City of Glendale continue to work toward a new lease agreement on Jobing.com Arena, home of the Coyotes. If the two sides are able to come up with a new agreement on a lease Hulsizer would then enter into discussions with the NHL to purchase the team from the league.
It would make no sense for Hulsizer to take over Glendale's obligations to the league without a deal in place, a source familiar with the situation told ESPN.com Friday.
Another source said the NHL has not altered its arrangement with the City of Glendale. The NHL has been tabulating operating costs for the team since July 1 although no monies have as yet been transferred from Glendale's $25 million fund to the league.
City officials did not respond to a request from ESPN.com to explain the meaning of the press release.
Scott Burnside covers the NHL for ESPN.com.