The City of Glendale wasted little time Tuesday night in unanimously approving a memorandum of understanding with Ice Edge Holdings in a bid to keep the Phoenix Coyotes in Arizona.
The agreement gives Ice Edge, the last group vying for the troubled NHL team, exclusive rights to negotiate a new arena lease with the city for 60 days.
"A lot of work does remain, there's no question about that," Ice Edge chief executive officer Anthony LeBlanc told city council Tuesday. "But we obviously feel there is a lot of momentum... we are ready to move onto the next step.
"We are looking forward to building this into a franchise of winners. We want when people talk about the Phoenix Coyotes -- and eventually the Arizona Coyotes -- (an organization) that is associated with year after year of winning, not an organization which is based in a bankruptcy court and is consistently heard here in a city council hall."
Step 1 of the agreement calls for Ice Edge to provide a bank term sheet within the next 10 days showing it may be able to find appropriate financing to purchase the team. Getting that financing, along with negotiating a new lease for Jobing.com Arena, is believed to be one of the group's major remaining hurdles leading up to being vetted as potential owners by the NHL.
"It's hard to gauge the probability of this deal closing," Ice Edge chief operating officer Daryl Jones told the Winnipeg Free Press on Tuesday.
"Realistically, there has been a great deal of financial turmoil in the world over the last 45 days, sovereign-debt issues and stock market corrections, which are going to make it harder for us, or any group, to close this transaction. That being said, we do remain optimistic."
Ice Edge's step forward on Tuesday came one day after the only other bidder, Chicago sports mogul Jerry Reinsdorf, formally dropped out of the process.
"Ultimately we came to the conclusion it was time to move on," Reinsdorf said in a statement. "We were happy to serve a critical role for the City to keep the team in Glendale and we look forward to assisting the City in the future on other projects both as a company and individually."
Ice Edge's agreement with the city includes a commitment to keep the Coyotes in Glendale for the next 25 years and to change the team's name to the Arizona Coyotes. The MOU's exclusivity clause will be wiped out, however, if another buyer makes a $25-million (U.S.) deposit with the league as part of its bid to buy the team.