The name of Tony Tavares, president of Sports Properties Acquisition Corp. surfaced on Wednesday in connection with the letter of intent to purchase the Coyotes, which was signed by Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf and registered with the court under seal.
However, although the Arizona Republic reported that Tavares is "collaborating with Reinsdorf's investment group to buy the hockey team," and implied Sports Properties is involved, sources close to the company said that is not the case. A banking source, who said on previous occasions that Sports Properties declined requests to look at buying the Coyotes, said again Wednesday the company has no involvement in any bid for the team.
The only other mention of Tavares, a former president of the NHL's Anaheim Ducks and of baseball's Montreal Expos, comes in an e-mail from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman that was filed with the court.
In the e-mail to two other NHL executives, including deputy commissioner Bill Daly, Bettman said he "arranged for Taveras [sic]to do due diligence for Reinsdorf." It appears Tavares was hired independently of Sports Properties.
If Taveres was hired for due diligence on Reinsdorf, who has yet to make an official offer to buy the Coyotes, then he would not have any part of an offer for the team. Since due diligence is essentially an investigation of any prospective owner, the investigator must be independent.
Daly could not be immediately reached for comment.
Sports Properties Acquisition Corp., controlled by New York financier Andrew Murstein and high-profile former U.S. politician Mario Cuomo, has been negotiating with Florida Panthers chairman and general partner Alan Cohen about merging with the Panthers' parent company (Sunrise Sports & Entertainment). They are discussing a merger which would see Cohen and his partners receive Sports Properties stock in exchange for placing the BankAtlantic Center lease along with a real-estate development planned around the arena, under the control of the public company.
Sports Properties is an investment fund created for the purpose of buying sports properties by selling shares. It raised $216-million (all currency U.S.) in its initial public offering, and originally stated its purpose was to buy one franchise for between $250-million and $1-billion. The fund tried and failed to buy baseball's Chicago Cubs.
Under U.S. securities laws, the fund has two years from its formation to buy a franchise or the money must be returned to the shareholders (Jan. 17, 2010, is the deadline).