How close were the Coyotes to leaving Arizona?
According to the Seattle Times, the moving trucks were on standby waiting for a call.
Last summer, the team’s chances of remaining in the Valley were dependent on a Glendale City Council vote that ultimately led to a new arena lease agreement and the team staying at then-Jobing.com Arena.
The vote passed by a 4-3 margin — and not without some controversy — but the result was the team staying put, at least for now.
If the vote had gone the other way, however, the NHL was set to move on by selling the team to Ray Bartoszek, a New York investment banker who would have relocated the team.
That view is supported by an internal memo from the NHL Players Association dated June 27, 2013 — five days before the Glendale vote.
The memo, obtained by Forbes, told players unless the lease was approved, the NHL “would immediately pursue one of several backup alternatives which likely would entail a prompt relocation of the franchise. While there are several potential cities … it appears that Seattle is the most likely.”
Two sources with first-hand knowledge have confirmed New York investor Bartoszek had moving trucks on standby to relocate the team to Seattle. They say a Seattle financing specialist had helped Bartoszek line up local investors to own a small piece of the franchise.
While no new arena was forthcoming, they say Bartoszek secured guarantees from the NHL to protect him if none emerged after three seasons. Though nobody could confirm specifics, a possibility is that the NHL would have let Bartoszek move the club again, or bought the team back from him.
As everyone in Arizona knows, just because the vote passed last summer does not mean the team is sticking around for the long haul. There was a clause in the franchise’s deal with the city that stated if the team lost $50 million in the first five years of ownership it could get out of its arena lease, and it has been reported that there were $24 million in losses just last season.