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Burns & Gambo

Updated Aug 2, 2013 - 6:37 am

Glendale councilman speaks out as Coyotes deadline nears

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- When the Glendale City Council voted 4-3 last month to approve a 15-year deal with Renaissance Sports and Entertainment, Phoenix Coyotes fans thought the four-year long ordeal of the purchase of the team was over, and the Coyotes would stay in Glendale.

The Phoenix Business Journal reported this week the group may have lost some of its funding to buy the team, and the deal could fall through. It later reported the deal is on track and is "nearly closed."

Glendale City Councilman Gary Sherwood said the second story is true.

"Everything is moving forward," Sherwood said. "Our attorneys have said that everything is on track."

RSE is facing a Monday deadline to finalize the deal, in which Glendale would pay the group $15 million a year to manage Arena. Money generated from ticket surcharges and parking fees would help the city recoup the cost.

Sherwood voted in favor of the deal and believes the sale will close on Monday. He said RSE's attorneys will hold a "pre-closing" meeting Friday.

"It's kind of a dress rehearsal kind of thing," Sherwood said. "The attorneys kind of go through their checklist and make sure they have everything."

But there's a chance there could be another obstacle.

"There's a group that opposes the deal that took out a referendum application," Sherwood said. "They've actually contacted the city clerk and said they'll be in with their petitions today."

That group wants the Coyotes deal put to a public vote. Its leader, Glendale resident Ken Jones, said the deal is bad for Glendale.

"They get a T-bone five-course dinner and we get maybe a bologna sandwich," Jones said in June.

Sherwood said there have not been many sightings of Jones collecting petition signatures and he doesn't believe they've gathered enough.

"It would be astronomically amazing if they would come up with probably close to 8,000 signatures without ever being seen out in town, and not having any money to pay people to do that," Sherwood said.

The group must turn in over 6,900 valid signatures Friday to get the measure placed on the ballot. Jones could not be reached for comment.

But Sherwood said the referendum threat has caused some concern.

"The only thing the Renaissance attorneys are concerned about today is this referendum," Sherwood said.

Attorneys for RSE were not available for comment. A spokesman for the group sent KTAR a written statement saying they would be available for interviews once the deal is finalized.

There is something else about the Coyotes that's on Sherwood's mind.

Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers voted against the deal. After losing the vote, Weiers told the Coyotes' potential owners, "I'm going to go out of my way to make you guys successful."

Sherwood doesn't believe the mayor.

"When he was questioned about the referendum, he said he was going to remain neutral." Sherwood said. "To me that says he's not fully on board."

But in the end, Sherwood is optimistic the deal will go through on Monday.

"This is the best deal that we've ever received on the Coyotes," Sherwood said. "We just want to get moving forward. We're just hoping that after Monday we can go on with this thing."

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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