The main parties in the dance between the NHL and prospective owners of the Phoenix Coyotes went silent over the weekend but no sale is imminent.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in an e-mail message Sunday there is "nothing new to share" on the Coyotes situation. He has no plans to be in the suburban city of Glendale this week, where the city council will discuss its plans for managing Jobing.com Arena on Tuesday at a private meeting.
Calgary financier George Gosbee and Anthony LeBlanc, a Canadian businessman who has led efforts by a group known as Ice Edge to buy the Coyotes for the last few years, are in talks with the NHL about the Coyotes. The league has been trying to sell the perennial money-loser for $170-million (all currency U.S.) since buying it out of bankruptcy in October, 2009, in order to prevent the team from moving to a city like Seattle or Quebec City.
Neither Gosbee nor LeBlanc responded to requests for comment on Sunday. When reporters at Sunday's press conference in Detroit to announce the next Winter Classic asked Bettman about the Coyotes all he said was, "There seems to be more interest at this particular point in time than we've seen throughout the process."
This was a reference to a second group that claims to be interested in buying the Coyotes. It is led by Darin Pastor, who runs an investment company in Irvine, Calif., but as an 11th-hour bidder it has a lot of ground to make up on Gosbee and LeBlanc.
While there is a sense among those with knowledge of the situation there is a lot of talking between the NHL and Gosbee's group, and there could be an announcement soon about a memorandum of understanding, one thing will not change. Unless Glendale pays the new Coyotes owners a substantial amount of money to manage Jobing.com Arena, at least $12-million to $15-million per year over a multi-year lease, the team cannot be sold to anyone who plans to keep it in the Phoenix area. Any new owner is also likely to demand an escape clause, which would allow the team to be moved if the losses continue.
According to the agenda for Glendale council's Tuesday workshop, which is what it calls meetings that are not open to the public, the politicians will talk to Glendale's "attorneys and designated representatives to consider its position and provide instruction regarding Glendale's position in connection with agreements related to the management of the arena, which are the subject of negotiations."
The city recently hired a Beacon Sports Capital Partners in Needham, Mass., to seek bids from companies interested in managing the arena and to negotiate with any Coyotes buyers about a lease. At present, the NHL manages the arena under a temporary contract.