The city of Glendale announced Friday that a prospective buyer has placed $25-million (U.S.) into an escrow account "in a show of good faith" that he wants to buy the Phoenix Coyotes.
It appears that Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer, co-owner of trading firm PEAK6 Investments, is the potential buyer but city officials declined to identify the buyer in a statement released Friday. Officials from the suburban Phoenix city said there would be no further comment aside from the statement.
However, Hulsizer is the only person known to be negotiating a lease agreement for Jobing.com Arena with the city at this time. The Ice Edge Holdings LLC group of American and Canadian businessmen faded from the picture last month after they failed to satisfy the city they had the necessary financing. Jerry Reinsdorf, the owner of the Chicago Bulls and Chicago White Sox, has also been an on-again, off-again presence but his demands that Glendale subsidize a large portion of the Coyotes' multimillion-dollar annual losses have been an obstacle for the city.
In its statement, the city said it is "moving forward with a prospective buyer for the purchase of the Phoenix Coyotes, subject to negotiation and approval of the prospective buyer and purchase price by the NHL."
However, this does not mean Glendale is immediately off the hook from its commitment to the NHL to pay up to $25-million of the Coyotes' losses this season, even though the city implied as much in its statement. First, it will have to ensure Hulsizer agrees to a lease and then Hulsizer has to buy the club from the NHL.
The NHL, which bought the club for $140-million in a bankruptcy court auction a year ago, agreed to keep the team in Glendale for at least this season only if the city agreed to pay for most of the losses.
In its agreement with Glendale, the NHL gave the city until Dec. 31 to find a buyer willing to keep the Coyotes in the city. If not, they will be sold to someone who can move them. League sources say the NHL has a conditional agreement with True North Sports and Entertainment Ltd. to sell the Coyotes, which used to be the Winnipeg Jets, and return them to their original NHL city if no other buyer surfaces by Dec. 31.
"At this point, the prospective buyer has requested confidentiality with the city due to the fact that negotiations are ongoing," the city's statement said. "This statement is all we can provide at this time."
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly also declined to comment.