Glendale to vote on proposal
The City of Glendale will vote Tuesday whether to ante up another $25 million to ensure the Phoenix Coyotes remain in town for at least another year.
The City of Glendale released its council agenda Friday and multiple sources confirmed to ESPN.com the city is looking at replicating an arrangement that cost $25 million this season to help cover operating costs while the NHL finds an owner for the franchise for next season.
The proposal is expected to pass -- one source told ESPN.com Friday it would be a "no-brainer" for the city -- and could take some of the pressure off of the municipality to sell more than $100 million in bonds that are crucial to closing a deal with Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer.
The sale of the bonds has been held up by the threat of a lawsuit by the Goldwater Institute, a public interest group that has challenged the legality of a proposed deal between the municipality and Hulsizer.
Brad Goldberg, vice chairman of Arizona Hockey Holdings, the group led by Hulsizer, told ESPN.com Friday that Hulsizer is committed to a deal in Phoenix.
He also denied reports Hulsizer was interested in purchasing the St. Louis Blues.
Ice Edge Holdings announced Saturday that it is withdrawing from the Hulsizer bid to buy the Coyotes, a source told ESPN.com. This development likely will not have an effect on Hulsizer's interest in the team because Ice Edge represented only a small percentage of the deal. The Ice Edge group was not interested in another year of potential uncertainty surrounding the sale of the team, the source said.
What remains unclear is whether the municipality's agreement to cover losses again next season will persuade the NHL to give Glendale additional time to get a deal done with Hulsizer -- or someone else -- or whether the league will exercise its right and begin relocation of the team to Winnipeg for the start of the 2011-12 season.
Glendale this week paid the NHL $25 million towards losses that are estimated to top $36 million this season. Agreeing to cover losses again next season will only ramp up speculation the Atlanta Thrashers are more likely to relocate to Winnipeg for next season than the Coyotes.
The Thrashers have been searching unsuccessfully for outside investors and/or new owners for the team for months and multiple sources have told ESPN.com that if the Coyotes remain in the desert the Thrashers would be the next target for relocation to Winnipeg. That relocation picture could come into much sharper focus after Tuesday's council meeting in Glendale.
Scott Burnside covers the NHL for ESPN.com.