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BlackBerry billionaire Jim Balsillie answers reporters' questions after leaving a U.S. Bankruptcy Court hearing Wednesday in Phoenix. (JOSHUA LOTT/Joshua Lott/Reuters)
BlackBerry billionaire Jim Balsillie answers reporters' questions after leaving a U.S. Bankruptcy Court hearing Wednesday in Phoenix. (JOSHUA LOTT/Joshua Lott/Reuters)

Balsillie ups bid for Coyotes Add to ...

Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie has raised his bid for the Phoenix Coyotes by $30-million to $242.5-million (all currency U.S.), court filings reveal.

Documents tabled with U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Arizona yesterday afternoon show Balsillie's sweetened offer for the struggling NHL club includes more money for the City of Glendale, where the Coyotes are based.

The Phoenix suburb built the Jobing.com Arena in exchange for the Coyotes locking into a long-term lease agreement. During the protracted fight for the club, which is under bankruptcy protection, Glendale has insisted the 30-year contract be honoured and the team maintained there.

Balsillie, co-CEO of technology giant Research In Motion, wants to buy the NHL club and move the team to Hamilton.

The court filings yesterday show he's offering Glendale $50-million to satisfy its claims, which the court papers say is "substantially more than Glendale would recover in the bankruptcy cases."

The documents say $20-million would be deducted from Balsillie's overall purchase price for the Coyotes, and then that $20-million and an additional $30-million would be directed to Glendale. Thus the overall bid increases by a net of $30-million.

The filings also say that if NHL relocation fees exceed $15-million, the amount paid to Glendale would be reduced dollar-for-dollar, with a maximum deduction to Glendale of $10-million.

Judge Redfield T. Baum is scheduled to hold an auction for the team on Thursday, although Baum has yet to even rule whether Balsillie's previous bid - and presumably his new one - will be allowed.

The NHL has countered with a last-minute bid of $140-million to purchase the club and keep it in Arizona.

Meanwhile, two studies conducted for the NHL set a potential relocation fee of $101-million to $195-million to move the Coyotes to Hamilton.

The figures are listed in a lengthy brief filed over the weekend in the bitter fight in U.S. Bankruptcy Court over ownership of the franchise.

The potential fees are in stark contrast to the $11.2-million to $12.9-million cited by economics professor Andrew Zimbalist in a study conducted for Balsillie.

The league, in determining a potential relocation fee, cited studies conducted for the NHL by Barrett Sports Group and Sports Value Consulting.

The Barrett study concludes that the franchise in Hamilton would be worth $261.8-million to $279.8-million. Sports Value's figure was a whopping $315-million.

Meanwhile, Barrett said the Coyotes in Glendale would be worth $163-million to $176-million and Sports Value places the figure at $120-million.

The NHL refuses to consider the possible relocation of the franchise, however, because its board of governors voted 26-0 with three abstentions against Balsillie as an owner.

The Canadian wants Judge Redfield T. Baum to overrule that NHL rejection and allow the team to move to Hamilton over the league's objection. Balsillie also is asking the judge to set a reasonable relocation fee if the NHL refuses to do so.

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