GLENDALE, Ariz — What the future holds for the Arizona Coyotes in the Valley is anyone’s guess after the Glendale City Council voted 5-2 to cancel the arena lease agreement with the team Wednesday.
According to Coyotes co-owner, president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc, the organization and its legal council will move swiftly to oppose the city council’s decision.
“Essentially, our litigation team will be filing injunctive relief, a temporary restraining order and we will also be going after the city for a couple hundred million dollars in potential damages,” Nick Wood of the Law Offices of Snell & Wilmer, who serves as outside council for the Coyotes, said.
The city of Glendale contends that the process of the contract negotiations that took place in 2013 were compromised after former Glendale city council attorney Craig Tindall stepped down from his position with the city to join the Coyotes’ general council that same year. An Arizona statute allows an agency to cancel a contract if an employee significantly involved with the agreement becomes an employee or agent of the other party to the contract.
LeBlanc and Wood believe the Coyotes have the stronger case and are staunch in their desire to keep the team in Glendale.
“Two days ago, we had a meeting,” LeBlanc said. “Contrary to what was said in the statement today, it was the first time we were even asked about renegotiating (a contract). And that doesn’t even get into the factor of, why would we even negotiate a deal that is less than two years old and that has 13 years remaining.
“What we have witnessed here tonight is possibly the most shameful exhibition of government I have ever witnessed.”
Those concerned with whether the Coyotes will call Gila River Arena home for the immediate future could receive a slight respite, as the motion for injunctive relief should buy the franchise some time.
“As Nick indicated, we’ll be filing for injunctive relief (Thursday) morning and it would be unimaginable to me that a court would look at this any other way than our expectation,” LeBlanc said.
Jersey-clad Coyotes fans overwhelmingly outnumbered those who were in favor of the city council’s decision to cancel the arena lease agreement.
“I really thought my council would come together and do what’s right for the citizens instead of what’s actually going to damage the city in the long run,” Chris Webb, a Coyotes fan and Glendale resident, said.
“What our council just did is tarnish the city of Glendale and the state of Arizona in the eyes of the National Hockey League and the entire hockey community around the world.”
Despite the city council’s decision, however, Webb says he hasn’t lost hope that the Coyotes will remain in the Valley.
“I have to have hope. I’ve always had hope. We’ve beaten relocation rumors before, we’ve gotten through this sort of stuff before, I have faith in our new ownership, we actually have ownership now and we’re no longer run by the league so we have bigger guns defending us.
“Hockey’s going to stay in the desert.”
KTAR News’ Cooper Rummell contributed to this story