If the saga of the Phoenix Coyotes ever ends, do you think anyone will miss the periodic eruptions when someone claims the NHL's sale of the team is either falling apart or hours away from completion?
Put me on the side of those who will miss this like you would miss a case of hives.
The latest eruption came Wednesday when Bob McCown, the host of Sportsnet Radio Fan 590's Prime Time Sports show, got a tip that the bond deal, which is to produce the $100-million (all currency U.S.) up-front payment to prospective buyer Matthew Hulsizer in exchange for parking rights, was dead. Ergo, the sale was dead since Hulsizer plans to use that $100-million to buy the Coyotes from the NHL for $170-million. Oh, and if you have somehow missed this never-ending tale, the brilliant politicians and city managers in Glendale, Ariz., are also going to pay Hulsizer $97-million more over the next several years to manage Jobing.com Arena. Nice work if you can get it, eh?
I got caught up in this when I was asked to go on McCown's show and talk about the story Eric Duhatschek and I did on the latest turn in Len Barrie's adventures with the Bear Mountain Resort. But when I got on the air, McCown had his tip and that is what he wanted to talk about.
McCown was told the bond issue was not going to fly. The city is trying to sell the bonds on the public market to financial institutions at a rate, I'm told, of 6 per cent interest. Apparently nobody is buying, which is not surprising because the municipal bond market is flatter than the Coyotes' attendance.
If this is so, then Glendale has to consider the private bond market where the interest rate would have to be much higher, say 9 per cent, which would make no financial sense if the city is really interested in covering its $100-million. Then again, any financial sense left this story a long, long time ago.
What all this meant is that the sale of the Coyotes could be in jeopardy for the umpteenth time and the folks in Winnipeg were riding up again on their roller-coaster. Except that while McCown and I were talking, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly e-mailed him to say his tip was not accurate. The bond deal was still alive.
From a journalistic standpoint, the story died there. Only the Winnipeg Free Press mentioned it, but as the journal in the city where this matters the most, it is keen to record every blip on the dial.
But by then the usual hilarity ensued on Twitter and the blogosphere.
And so it goes with this story. What is true, for example, at 3 p.m. Tuesday, is not necessarily true at 3 p.m. Wednesday. Those 24 hours can see a lot of subsequent developments that do not reach the ears of reporters until they report the original development.
This should in no way be seen as a criticism of McCown. The same thing happened to me and other reporters many times on this story.
McCown was absolutely right in the sense that the bond issue is on thin ice. It has been from the start. The ice may well break in the coming hours, days, weeks, whatever. It just didn't break on Wednesday.