The past few weeks have seen some new developments from the Valley of the Sun. First, Ice Edge Holdings, the group led by former Research in Motion executive Darryl Jones, is back in the picture as a possible ownership group. Recall that the NHL bought the Coyotes for $140 million in bankruptcy court. Ice Edge was one of the potential suitors for the Coyotes earlier this year, and made an offer of $150 million, but they backed out of the proceedings, citing an inability to sign a lease deal with the City of Glendale, owner of the arena. Other reports claimed that Ice Edge had some financial issues that (may have) been resolved in the past few months.
Ice Edge still has the same plan for the franchise: keep it in Phoenix, and play a small number of games in Saskatoon. The group claims to have “signed a letter of intent” to buy the team, whatever that means.
Meanwhile, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says that the current owners of the Coyotes, the league, will not have to cover any current operating losses incurred by the team. Given that former Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes testified in bankruptcy court that he lost about $300 million on the team from 2005 to 2009, I don’t see what kind of financial wizardry Bettman claims to be pulling off here. If Moyes testified truthfully, the team was losing $60 million a season before it was bought by the league. The unclear ownership situation has to be affecting the gate revenues. I haven’t looked at the attendance figures carefully, but a recent report suggests that they are not drawing well this year. If gate revenues are down this year, the losses would appear to be larger, not smaller.
So stay tuned, NHL fans. Nothing appears to to happening soon in Phoenix, except more unsold tickets to hockey games. The Glendale City Council has to approve any changes in the Coyotes’ lease, and playing games in Saskatoon would fall under the heading of “changes in the lease.” When asked “will the Coyotes be sold to Ice Edge Holdings? “my Magic 8 Ball said “maybe.”