Here’s a recent headline: Phoenix Coyotes Deal Goes South (Again)
And again, the story revolves around how Greg Jamison “failed to raise enough money” to buy the franchise, etc.
But are we absolutely certain that he failed to raise the money? Or did his investors refuse to hand over the money? Based on conversations I’ve had with NHL sources, maybe the more accurate account might be that Team Jamison became the latest prospective ownership group to refuse to meet the NHL’s stated asking price of $170 million.
For a moment, let’s hit the rewind button. In our Coyotes coverage, we almost always blame the buyer, right? Actually, make that buyers. Meaning, just fill-in-the-blank: Mr. _____ (Hulsizer, Reinsdorf, Balsillie, Jamison, Ice Edge Inc.) couldn’t seal the deal.
Other times, we haven’t hesitated to blame the realtor, if you will. And, no doubt, the City of Glendale has demonstrated its share of political dysfunction and budget ineptitude.
But what about the seller? In this blame game, doesn’t the NHL itself share some culpability in a Coyotes sales process that has gone sideways again and again?
Like any transaction, if an asset isn’t selling, then maybe it isn’t priced to sell. And, if not, then guess what? Doesn’t the seller share some culpability for the fact that a “For Sale” sign has been in the Coyotes’ front yard for three years now?
Good question. That said, what exactly is the comp in the Coyotes neighborhood? What is the fair market price?
Well, in May 2011, the St. Louis Blues sold for a reported $130 million. But, the sale also included the AHL Peoria Rivermen, the Scottrade Center arena, and what the Blues said was a “substantial” interest in the adjoining Peabody Opera House, per multiple reports.
What’s more, just six months earlier, Forbes had valued the Blues at $157 million.
As of the 2012 rankings, the Phoenix Coyotes are valued at $134 million, which is 29th among the 30 teams according to the magazine.
Yet, the NHL continues to list the Coyotes sale price at a firm $170 million. If you were any of the astute businessmen named above, would you pay well above market value? The value in Phoenix “does not pencil out,” as I’m told by sources in the wake of Jamison missing the deadline.
How does Gary Bettman justify this price? The NHL is obviously aware the franchise is priced well above a fair market figure. And the league almost certainly has to be aware that it has now resulted in another failed ownership bid.
Now, I’m going to guess that the NHL commissioner wants to make his owners “whole” for funds the league has invested into the team ever since it was purchased out of bankruptcy while hemorrhaging cash.
Here’s our question: does that sunk cost ultimately sink the Coyotes?
Because the NHL maintains that it wants the Coyotes to remain in Arizona. Okay, gotcha. But when will the league put its asking price where its mouth is?