Balsillie increases offer

JOE WARMINGTON, Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:26 AM ET

Just 72 hours before a bankruptcy auction for bidding on the Phoenix Coyotes begins, Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie has sweetened his overall offer to buy and move the NHL team to Hamilton by an additional $30 million US.

Filings in a Phoenix court late Monday show that Balsillie’s bid to purchase this Coyotes is now at $242.5 million.

The auction before Judge Redfield T. Baum is scheduled to begin Thursday.

What Balsillie did in court Monday, in essence, was to revise his original bid by offering to buy out the 30-year arena lease between the current ownership of the team and the City of Glendale.

The Coyotes play their home games at the Jobing.com Arena, and their lease is a contentious issue.

The RIM executive’s offer, according to the documents, indicates he is prepared to pay $50 million to cover costs of breaking a lease.

The court filing states Balsillie’s group is “willing to buy claims for $50 million, which is significantly more than Glendale would recover in the bankruptcy cases.”

The new development puts Balsillie’s bid at $100-million more than the offer from the NHL itself, which has been said to be $140 million.

A third potential buyer, Ice Edge, has said it would spend up to $150 million to buy the team, contingent on reaching agreement with the city of Glendale on a new lease.

The NHL’s offer, however, would keep the team in Glendale until such time as another suitor, approved by the NHL, could be found.

Balsillie’s group was not commenting, other than spokesman Bill Walker saying that: “Out of respect for the court, we will let the filings speak for themselves, outlining our offer to Glendale ... if accepted, this raises the purchase offer to $242.5 million.”

In another brief filed to the court, two studies conducted for the NHL set a potential relocation fee of $101 million to $195 million to move the Coyotes to Hamilton.

The potential fees are in stark contrast to the $11.2 million to $12.9 million cited by economics professor Andrew Zimbalist in a study conducted for Balsillie.

— with files from Sun wire services

joe.warmington@sunmedia.ca


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