Balsillie won't win bid

GABE MACALUSO, FOR SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:00 AM ET

With Jim Balsillie attempting to move the Phoenix Coyotes to southern Ontario, Gabe Macaluso offers an insider's thoughts on an NHL team settling in Hamilton. Macaluso headed up several attempts to bring an NHL team to Hamilton while serving as CEO of Copps Coliseum from 1989 to 2005.

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I can't believe the positive spin some of the news outlets are giving to Jim Balsillie's bid to buy the Phoenix Coyotes and move them to Copps Coliseum.

I know one thing for sure. In listening to Judge Redfield T. Baum last week he wanted a decision -- sooner rather than later -- on the relocation issue.

The NHL claims Balsillie's proposal to move the team is a non-starter because Hamilton is seven miles within Toronto's territory. Baum has said his bankruptcy court would not get involved in the antitrust complaint that might follow the Coyotes relocation.

Here is what I believe will happen:

Before June 9, the NHL will make public that Balsillie's purchase/relocation was not approved by the required 75% of the board of governors. Baum then will dismiss Balsillie's bid and immediately put in place an auction procedure for the second week of September for the Coyotes.

Balsillie will be invited to bid with the proviso that the team must remain in Phoenix. He likely will decline to do so.

What next?

The Coyotes will have a new owner who will pledge to remain in Phoenix providing the team attracts no fewer than an average of 14,000 fans a game and a favourable lease arrangement over 20 years, with a year-to-year renewal. Failing that, the owner will be free to move his franchise to a site predetermined by the NHL -- possibly Winnipeg or Kansas City.

Knowing how important money is to many of these NHL owners, and the fact there are possibly two interested parties with deep pockets -- Balsillie, and Vancouver developer Tom Gagliardi -- they may insist on an expansion team for southern Ontario for the 2012-13 season.

A democratic process will take place and, I suppose, a dollar value of $500 million US for an expansion team will be announced. Of that $500 million, $100 million will go to the Maple Leafs and $35 million will go to the Buffalo Sabres for territorial rights. Toronto, Buffalo and the remaining teams will share in the expansion fee of $365 million, giving each of them about $12 million -- cash. Toronto will ask for and be given the right to carry some of the expansion team's games on its Leafs TV network free of charge for a said period. Toronto will also ask and be given the rights to operate the building in which the new team will play in. This is not unusual. There have been arenas and/or concessions that have been managed by companies affiliated with an NHL team that has its team playing in another venue. And Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. is expert at managing buildings.

All of the aforementioned points to what I was told by three NHL commissioners -- John Ziegler, Gil Stein and Gary Bettman: "If Hamilton wants a team you best come down the aisle with Toronto on one arm and Buffalo on the other."


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