Coyotes deal could be done next week
CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI AGENCY
|General view of action between the Nashville Predators and the Phoenix Coyotes in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Arizona. (GETTY)
NASHVILLE - The Phoenix Coyotes' top executive is confident the team is staying put in the desert.
"I'm planning for next year, we're renewing tickets, we're making plans for next year and, so, I fully expect it," Coyotes COO and president Mike Nealy told QMI Agency and ESPN.com in an interview Thursday outside the team's dressing room.
"I know it's not a guarantee, but I would say I'd put a high probability on it."
Nealy said "things are moving quickly" to conclude a sale of the team to a group headed by former San Jose Sharks executive Greg Jamison.
"Next week is a possibility," Nealy said. "As far as the city of Glendale, they certainly are shooting to be able to do something early next week. They have a council meeting scheduled for Tuesday and they'd like to do that.
"Certainly the NHL wouldn't have anything against that. So if those three pieces can come together and that's all in the mix, it could happen. Things are moving pretty quickly and a lot of work is being done. I wouldn't be shocked if we saw something next week. I wouldn't be panicked if it didn't happen, but I'm looking for the near term."
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in an e-mail: "We are continuing to work with Greg Jamison and with the City of Glendale to move the process forward. We remain hopeful that we can get a deal done, and we can move forward from there to close the transaction and transition ownership locally. Having said that, nothing is done yet and no timeline for completion has been established."
Nealy said an announcement while the Coyotes are in the playoffs would "just give a boost to everything."
"It has been out there for a long time and it could happen as soon as -- and we could have said this a month ago -- as soon as next week and it could be a couple of weeks ... but we know the runway is running out," Nealy said.
"It can't go forever. Probably unlike in previous years, I don't think there's a backstop there with the city of Glendale, the ability to backstop it again. I think we're probably on our final runway, but I feel pretty good something is going to happen."
By a backstop, Nealy is referring to Glendale subsidizing the Coyotes losses by $25 million, which it has done the past two seasons.
A deal last year to sell the team to Matthew Hulsizer was scuttled when the Goldwater Institute threatened litigation because parts of the transaction, which included a bond issue, amounted to corporate charity and violated state laws.
"I guess you can't ignore that, but I think the deal points that I'm familiar with -- and I don't have all the information -- I think some of the concern Goldwater had with the previous deal, those things are probably not there this time around," Nealy said.
"I don't think we can stop them from asking questions or trying to stop something, but I don't think the economics of a deal that's out there right now would warrant that. That's my opinion. They could surface. They haven't. We'll see, but I think it could work out and if they surface, they surface and we'll navigate that."