- Scott Burnside, NHL
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Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer told ESPN.com Friday evening that he has an agreement in principle for a new Jobing.com Arena lease with the City of Glendale and that he hopes to be able to close a deal with the NHL to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes at the league's asking price.
Hulsizer, who has not previously spoken about his desire to buy the team, declined to discuss details of the lease agreement. But his comments, along with the fact he is planning to travel to Phoenix for Saturday's home opener, suggests that the long ownership saga involving the Coyotes is nearing its close and the beleaguered team will remain in the desert.
Hulsizer's comments echo statements made earlier Friday by NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, who told a number of media outlets that the three groups -- Glendale, the NHL and Hulsizer -- had agreed in principle to a new lease and a purchase agreement but that final documentation was not yet complete.
"We're hopeful, and have reason to believe, that we may be moving toward a good resolution of the Coyotes' ownership situation," Daly told ESPN.com.
The league bought the team out of bankruptcy more than a year ago and has said all along that a new lease was essential if the team were to stay in Arizona.
Hulsizer was en route to Arizona, where the Coyotes play their home opener Saturday night against the Detroit Red Wings. His spokesman, Judson Just, said Hulsizer "looking forward to seeing a great game tonight," but had no further comment beyond what the league and city had said.
The final purchase price hasn't been revealed as it remains a bit of a moving target based on the NHL's desire to recoup the money it has put into the team since taking over operation of the Coyotes. It's believed the final purchase price will be about $170 million.
Whatever form the final deal takes, expect Glendale to help fund the purchase price as it had agreed to do as part of an earlier agreement with Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf before that deal collapsed.
"The city [sic] of Glendale and the Hulsizer group have an agreement in principle on a lease which would allow the Hulsizer group to buy the team from the NHL under the terms they requested," the city said in a statement Friday. "The proposed ownership transaction is subject to formal approval by the NHL Board of Governors."
Hulsizer is co-founder and chief executive officer of PEAK6 Investments. The Ice Edge group remains a part of Hulsizer's efforts to buy the team.
Hulsizer emerged recently as the money man in the efforts to purchase the team by Ice Edge. The NHL and Glendale were concerned about the Ice Edge offer because it relied heavily on bank financing. Hulsizer came in and would be the majority owner if the purchase goes through.
The 1991 Amherst graduate was a director and risk manager for Swiss Bank from 1994 until he co-founded PEAK6 in 1997. Before that, he was a senior trader with O'Connor & Associates, a proprietary derivatives firm that was acquired by Swiss Bank.
The league purchased the franchise with the stated intention of finding a buyer to keep the Coyotes in Arizona.
Glendale has deposited $25 million to cover losses for the franchise this season. Hulsizer's group also deposited $25 million in what was described as a demonstration of good faith.
The Coyotes never have turned a profit since moving from Winnipeg in 1996.
Despite the uncertain ownership status and a low payroll, the Coyotes had a surprisingly successful 2009-10 season, winning 50 games, third-most in the West. The team went from playing in an almost empty arena early to a string of eight sellouts at the end of the season before losing to Detroit in seven games in the first round of the playoffs.
Scott Burnside covers the NHL for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press contributed to this story.
6hDanny Knobler, Special to ESPN.com