I know I should probably be posting on the late night maneuvers in Olympia rather than those in Glendale, Arizona, but the former are far too complicated to address this late at night, so instead, a quick update on what's happening with the Phoenix Coyotes.
The Glendale city council has put an arena lease management proposal on the agenda for Tuesday's meeting, and they appear to have a bare 4-3 majority to approve it. But it's not the proposal the Coyotes' prospective buyer, Renaissance Sports and Entertainment (RSE), recently said they were done tweaking. Instead, the council will vote on a counterproposal that includes several modifications, most significantly, a five-year out clause for the city that matches the one RSE demanded. RSE responded by saying that this is a deal breaker:
"We're not going to agree to it. It is a non-starter," [RSE] spokesman David Leibowitz said after the meeting. "What we want the city to do is remove the out clause. That's a deal breaker."
So now it appears that the council is going to vote to approve a counterproposal that RSE has said it would not accept. (Could not, really, because their lenders won't accept it.) And that means there will be no deal to keep the Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena by the July 2 deadline the NHL has imposed.
Of course, the council could amend the deal before approving it at Tuesday's meeting, but they don't appear to have the votes:
City Councilman Gary Sherwood, who led the effort to force the vote saying a day earlier the brinkmanship was over, said Friday that he could support the counteroffer but not the previous draft.
Sherwood acknowledged that the city's five-year out clause may be problematic with IceArizona's lenders who would want assurances of a guaranteed 15-year income stream from the city before providing as much as half of the team's $170 million purchase price.
"That's a biggie and that was pointed out to us," Sherwood said.
Similarly, veteran Councilman Manny Martinez, who has supported every previous hockey deal, said he could only support the latest counter offer.
Those are two of the four "definite yes votes" Coyotes boosters had been counting on. So unless RSE (or its lender) blinks, it sure does look like the deal is dead.
And it also looks like the deal's death was premeditated. Sherwood acknowledges that the out clause will likely kill the deal, yet he and Martinez are insisting on it anyway. It's a poison pill. A majority of the council will vote to approve the deal, forcing RSE to reject it. In the end, the Coyotes will leave because the league and its buyer stopped negotiating, not the city. It's a crafty political maneuver that allows council members to claim that they fought both to keep the Coyotes and to protect taxpayers.
So at this point it looks like Glendale will miss the July 2 deadline to come to terms with RSE. The only questions that remain are, will the NHL carry out on its threat to move the team, and if so, will the Coyotes move to Seattle or Quebec?
"We either get certainty in Glendale by July 2, or we immediately pursue our other options outside of Glendale. We have already gone past the date we were comfortable accommodating in the first place. I hope for the sake of the Coyotes fans in Glendale that they don’t lose the team because of a miscalculation made by members of the City Council."
... If the Renaissance and Glendale cannot come to an agreement then the team could move, likely to Seattle. The league has already met with the Seattle mayor and has an agreement to sell the team to an ownership group in Seattle for $220 million if the arena issues in Arizona cannot be sorted out.. The potential Seattle team would play in Key Arena, which seats just 11,000 for hockey, until a new arena is built.