The Phoenix Coyotes situation in Arizona seems tenuous at best, as recent reports say prospective buyer Greg Jamison will be unable to purchase the team.
Jamison and his group of investors have until midnight Thursday to complete the deal under a previously arranged lease agreement, and as of now that seems unlikely to happen. Reports have surfaced that Jamison (or a lawyer representing him) have asked for an extension, but new Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers says there has always been an understanding that the deadline was non-negotiable.
“Mr. Jamison and I have talked,” Weiers told Arizona Sports 620’s Burns and Gambo Thursday. “I had told him that I would honor the deal that the previous council had made. That’s true today, but not a second past it.”
Weiers said the stance has nothing to do with a desire to see hockey leave the desert; in fact, he and the council would prefer to keep the Coyotes around. However, as the economy continues to struggle, tough decisions have to be made.
“We want a professional hockey team here, but not when it’s literally tied to the backs of our taxpayers at the same time that we’re letting our law enforcement jobs go by the wayside and our fire,” he said. “Public safety has got to be our very first priority, and as much as I want the Coyotes here, it can’t be done on the backs of the taxpayers by sacrificing, trading public safety for hockey.
“We can’t do it.”
The deal, which had been agreed upon last year, would pay the franchise’s owners $308 million over 20 years to manage Jobing.com Arena. The trick is balancing that cost with the revenue brought in by the team, which currently ranks last in the NHL in attendance. That’s something Weiers and the city council have to weigh as it proceeds, as it is a very real possibility the team will leave if a deal is not reached soon.
“Obviously that’s a concern that we all have, but I do know that the majority of the council — including myself — feel we can still accomplish the goal of keeping the team here, but we don’t have to give the farm away to do it,” he said. “I think if anybody wants a professional hockey team it needs to support itself.”
Weiers said it is not and should not be government’s position to decide which businesses succeed and which ones don’t, adding it would not be fair to support a hockey team while other business are failing every day.
But professional hockey team is different from a regular business, and the mayor understands Glendale would take a hit if the Coyotes bolt.
“At the same time, we take a hit by keeping them here,” Weiers said.
So the Coyotes are where they are: still without an owner, still hoping to stay in Arizona. The only difference is they may be less than a day away from officially having at least one foot out the door.
Weiers is well aware of that, and while he is pessimistic that something will get done by midnight Thursday, he’s not yet ready to throw in the towel on hockey in the desert.
“If he can’t pull it together I know that the council will not be willing to extend that, but I can also tell you we will entertain any offer anybody has that isn’t going to set our city backwards, that will help us move forward, that will keep the Coyotes here and keep a professional hockey team,” he said, admitting it may take a miracle to keep the team around. “I don’t know anybody that doesn’t want them here other than the Canadians. They’d rather have them up north of the border.
“If we can keep them here and not cost our taxpayers money, that’s a win-win for everybody.”