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The sands in the Coyotes’ hourglass may be running out

I’ve always wanted to live in a really nice house. You know, like this Fountain Hills beauty that’s currently on the market.

Alas, the 4,830-square foot abode is listed at almost $1.6 million, or more accurately, way out of my price range, so I’ll just admire the photos and keep buying Powerball tickets.

On a much smaller scale, I also really could use a new Macbook Pro. Yes, I’m an Apple guy and the laptop I’ve been using the hell out of for the last five years is worn. It still works, but it’s running an outdated operating system and is probably on its last legs. But a new one, even a smaller version than the 17-inch that I have now, would run a minimum of $1,199 plus tax. I just don’t know if now is the right time to pull the trigger on such a purchase while my old computer is still operational.

It’s my way of being financially responsible, I guess. If only that applied to prospective hockey franchise owners.

Apparently Greg Jamison has always wanted to own a hockey franchise. The former CEO of the San Jose Sharks has been in negotiations to buy the Phoenix Coyotes franchise for the better part of a year. Despite being able to negotiate what many called a “sweetheart” of a lease agreement with the city of Glendale that would pay him $308 million over 20 years to operate Arena, Jamison couldn’t meet the purchase deadline of 11:59 p.m. Thursday night. The reason? There were probably many, but one was that Jamison, due to difficulty with his investors, couldn’t wrangle up enough capital to complete the sale.

Although Jamison remains steadfast (whatever that means) in his quest to buy the team and Glendale mayor Jerry Weiers says he’s confident the team will stay, the reality of the situation is that this process is no further along than it was three-and-a-half years ago. The last nine months or so have been nothing but a big tease to hockey fans in the desert.

In May of 2009 I worked for a fledgling, locally-based sports website that planned a ‘Save the Coyotes’ rally at an establishment across the street from Arena. At the time, Blackberry magnate Jim Balsillie was trying to buy the team and move them to Ontario. Read the first sentence of this paragraph again. People were in ‘save the team’ mode four years ago!

For fans of a franchise that hasn’t had the most solid ownership history, the story was tiring then. Now, almost 1,400 days later, it’s crossed over into laughable territory.

Say what you will about NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. He’s not exactly the most popular guy among puckheads on this continent, but he’s shown the patience of Job in his desire to keep hockey in Glendale.

Say what you want about the city of Glendale. No, they haven’t been the easiest group for prospective owners to work with in this process, but they’ve already shelled out $75 million over the last three years to keep the team in town and are were willing to spend another $308 million over the next two decades to have Jamison manage Arena.

I had a little fun earlier with Jamison and his inability to scare up financing to close the deal. The reality is Greg Jamison could buy and sell me a million times over — he’s a powerful man who is respected in hockey circles. But whether it was Jamison or Jerry Reinsdorf or Matthew Hulsizer or the Ice Edge group or, I don’t know, Bill Friggin’ Gates — anybody who bought this team was going to be faced with a huge challenge: getting 18,000 fans in the place for home games on weeknights.

Last Monday, the Coyotes dismantled the Nashville Predators 4-0 in front of a crowd that was listed at 8,581, but appeared to be much less than that. It was only the fourth home game of an abbreviated season for a team coming off their best playoff run in franchise history, yet the arena was less than half-full. In the past, I scoffed at fans who would use the “I’m not driving from Chandler to Glendale on a school or work night to watch a hockey game” excuse.

I no longer scoff, because there is nearly a decade of data that backs it up.

I don’t want the Phoenix Coyotes to leave the Valley, for a number of reasons. First, I’ve called Phoenix home for 33 years, I grew up a fan of the teams, and their success (and existence) obviously benefits me professionally. Secondly, I know a lot of fans that live and die with this team and I’ve seen the pain that fans of the Seattle Supersonics, Cleveland Browns and St. Louis Cardinals felt. It’s not fun.

But the stark reality is that if there was an astute business person who felt professional hockey was a viable money-making option in Glendale, Arizona, don’t you think they would have stepped forward and closed this deal by now? And after four years of this merry-go-round, they could have gotten it for a song, relatively speaking.

There have been some great memories over the last 17 years — memories that can’t ever be taken away from the diehard fans who have endured this seemingly endless ownership roller coaster ride. But even those fans have got to be spent at this point.

I fear that this is the last hurrah for the Phoenix Coyotes, and I’m okay with it.