Reinsdorf Close To Coyotes Deal

Chicago sports magnate Jerry Reinsdorf could be headed west following a recent lease approval by city councilors in Glendale, Ariz.

Reinsdorf, who owns the NBA’s Chicago Bulls and MLB’s Chicago White Sox, threw his hat into the ring for the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes through his Glendale Hockey investor group. With the approval of its bid to lease the team’s home, Arena, the group must now win over the NHL to seal the deal.

Wayne Gretzky, a partner in Glendale Hockey, lauded the deal as a win for the city and the team, which was purchased in a bankruptcy sale last year by the NHL.

“Jerry will be a great owner in Phoenix,” Gretzky told the New York Times.

“He’s got a relationship with the city of Glendale because of the White Sox, and he lives in Phoenix periodically in the winter. The sports teams he already owns have been very successful, so I think he’s the right guy coming in to do the right job for that city.”

Glendale Hockey’s plan would guarantee the NHL a minimum of $103 million, with an additional $65 million coming from a “community facilities district” near the arena that would reportedly generate funds through parking fees and bonds.

The group has expressed an interest in keeping the team in the Phoenix suburb for the remaining 24 years on the arena lease.

However, if certain conditions in the facilities district aren’t met within five years, Glendale Hockey has reportedly reserved the right to sell the team, given 180 days’ notice, to another buyer for a minimum purchase price of $103 million.

Carrie Ann Sitren, an attorney for the Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute, told the Times the deal could leave the city in a serious financial bind should Glendale Hockey choose to sell the Coyotes at the five-year mark.

“The Reinsdorf deal creates serious legal questions,” Sitren said. “It puts a huge amount of risk on the city, whereas Reinsdorf takes on virtually none. It could be a contract without a give and take from each side, which would be illegal. Beyond that, the city might make substantial payments to support Reinsdorf’s ownership and still lose the team after five years.”

The city of Glendale is reportedly still on the hook for $180 million for the arena.