Big Bucks For Desert Hockey

An expensive fight is being waged to keep the bankrupt Phoenix Coyotes from relocating, and so far the effort appears to be succeeding.

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Redfield Baum barred a Canadian bidder from buying the team and it has since been revealed the city of Glendale, Ariz., has spent $2.1 million on outside consultants to keep the team from moving.

In the past year, Glendale used the money on two legal firms, three sports business experts and a media spokesman in hopes of protecting the city’s investment in Arena, the Coyotes’ home ice.

The team filed for bankruptcy in May and a buyer wanted to move the team to hockey-friendly Canada. Glendale officials told the U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge the city could lose $500 million if the team left.

NHL officials have yet to find a buyer to keep the team in Glendale, which paid $180 million to build the Arena. The city depends on sales taxes from shops and restaurants in the arena’s district, plus the fees the Coyotes pay out to play in the arena, in order to recoup the outlay.

Not everyone is happy that the city is coughing up millions in legal and PR costs to keep the team, however. Councilman Phil Lieberman has criticized Glendale’s handling of the situation.

“‘Ridiculous’ is the only term I can use,” he told the Arizona Republic. “When you consider we had to rob everything you could think of [to balance the city’s budget] …I am not in favor of it.”