An escape clause for Ice Edge - something the group's principals insisted they did not need or want - is the most notable change in a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) between it and the suburban city of Glendale, Ariz., concerning the purchase of the Phoenix Coyotes.
However, there is also one notable holdover from the previous MOU: The group of Canadian and U.S. investors known as Ice Edge Team LLC still has the right to play up to five Coyotes regular-season games at alternative sites. Ice Edge made much of its desire to relocate a handful of games in Saskatoon but played down that in recent months when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman showed no enthusiasm for the idea.
The latest MOU between Ice Edge, one of two known groups trying to buy the Coyotes, will be presented to Glendale's city council for approval on Tuesday night. Since council already got a look at the MOU, which is just the outline for a deal, last Friday, its approval is considered a formality.
A statement released by the city on Friday makes that clear. "Throughout this process, the city has always anticipated forwarding multiple potential agreements to the NHL by June 30, and the city has met that deadline," the statement said.
That will also mean a name-change for the team. One clause in the MOU calls for the Phoenix Coyotes to become the Arizona Coyotes.
Once the MOU is approved, Glendale has agreed to negotiate exclusively with Ice Edge for the next 60 days to come to a complete agreement, which includes an arena lease.
This does not mean Ice Edge has the inside track on buying the Coyotes, which are owned by the NHL. The city already has an MOU with a group led by Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf. In its Friday statement, the city acknowledged the buyer will be picked by the NHL, which extracted an agreement from Glendale to cover up to $25-million (all currency U.S.) in operating losses next season if it cannot sell the team before the start of the 2010-11 season. The NHL, which bought the Coyotes out of bankruptcy for $140-million, wants $165-million for the team.
Ice Edge will lose its exclusive negotiating rights if it does not provide the city within 10 days a term sheet from its bankers showing it can borrow the money it needs or another buyer covers the $25-million the city put up for next season's losses.