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The Phoenix Coyotes have finally, finally been sold

Updated 2x at 3:28 PM: Per Fox Sports Arizona's Craig Morgan...

And the Arizona Republic's Sarah McLellan:

Here's the NHL's press release:

SALE OF COYOTES IS FINALIZED: Board Approves Transaction, Securing Future Of Franchise


NEW YORK (August 5, 2013) -- The National Hockey League today announced the sale of the Phoenix Coyotes to a group headed by George Gosbee and Anthony LeBlanc. The transaction, which closed earlier today, was approved by the League’s Board of Governors – terminating League ownership of the Club.

"The National Hockey League believes in Arizona as an NHL market and that these new owners can provide the Coyotes the opportunity to secure a stable, long-term future in Glendale," Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "We thank Mike Nealy, Don Maloney, Dave Tippett, team captain Shane Doan and all the players and staff for consistently going 'above and beyond' on behalf of the franchise during this long and complex process. We thank the Coyotes' devoted fans for their patient, perseverant support. We are extremely pleased that a positive resolution has been achieved for the fans, the city, the Coyotes and the League."

Update: the Coyotes also issued a press release...

IceArizona Finalizes Purchase of Coyotes Franchise

GLENDALE, ARIZONA – The Phoenix Coyotes announced today that IceArizona AcquisitionCo., LLC has closed on their purchase of the Phoenix Coyotes franchise from the National Hockey League. The sale and ownership transfer has been approved by the NHL’s Board of Governors.

IceArizona is a group composed of several business leaders from across North America. Renaissance Sports and Entertainment, LLC will act as the managing partner of IceArizona.

“We are extremely pleased to have finalized the transaction with the NHL and to take ownership of the Coyotes franchise,” said George Gosbee, Chairman and Governor of the Coyotes. “We extend our sincere gratitude to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly for their hard work and commitment to the Coyotes franchise and our great fans here in Arizona. We also thank the City Council members and residents of the City of Glendale for their tremendous support. Finally, to our fans and partners in the Valley, thank you for your continued loyalty, commitment and patience for the Coyotes. The future looks bright for our franchise.”

“The National Hockey League believes in Arizona as an NHL market and that these new owners can provide the Coyotes the opportunity to secure a stable, long-term future in Glendale,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “We thank Mike Nealy, Don Maloney, Dave Tippett, team captain Shane Doan and all the players and staff for consistently going ‘above and beyond’ on behalf of the franchise during this long and complex process. We thank the Coyotes’ devoted fans for their patient, perseverant support. We are extremely pleased that a positive resolution has been achieved for the fans, the city, the Coyotes and the League.”

“We are thrilled to be taking over a team led by one of the NHL’s best general managers in Don Maloney, one of the best coaches in Dave Tippett, and the league’s longest serving and most respected Captain in Shane Doan,” said Anthony LeBlanc, Alternate Governor and pending CEO of the franchise. “The Coyotes are here to stay and we will continue to work hard on and off the ice and have a strong presence in our community. Our ultimate goal is to bring a Stanley Cup championship to our tremendously resilient, passionate and dedicated fan base here in the Valley. We have a lot of work to do and we can’t wait to get started.”

The members of the Coyotes new ownership group include the following:

• George Gosbee
• Anthony LeBlanc
• Avik Dey
• Gary J Drummond
• W David Duckett
• W R Dutton
• Daryl Jones
• Robert Gwin
• Scott Saxberg
• Craig Stewart
• Richard Walter

And Morgan reports that there will be a press conference held to introduce the new owners:

Update #2: Here's Morgan's interview with George Gosbee from Fox Sports Arizona:

“For people who aren’t used to these sorts of deals, it can become a bit of a Gong Show where every time the deal go sideways it’s off, and every time progress is made it’s a done deal; but I’m used to mergers and acquisitions -- it’s what I do,” Gosbee said. “This was a complex transaction with a lot of moving parts, but I always knew at the end of the day that it was a great deal for the City of Glendale, the team, the team of investors and the NHL. I knew we could get there.”

...

Critics have noted that IceArizona has a five-year out clause it can exercise if its losses should equal or exceed $50 million over that span, but Gosbee said those predictions don’t concern him.

“Nobody in my group talks about moving or where we would move. Half the guys have financial or real estate interests in Arizona, and some are moving or retiring down there,” Gosbee said, noting he plans to buy a home in the Valley. (His Calgary home was destroyed by recent floods.) “We think the model works, and there are lots of attributes that make Phoenix attractive. I want to own this team for the next 30 to 40 years in Arizona.”

Gosbee said there are numerous factors that make Phoenix attractive, including its quality-of-life draw to free agents, the untapped corporate sponsorship possibilities and the large population.

“In a city that big, you don’t need as big a percentage of the market share to be successful,” Gosbee said.

But there is also the reality that the new collective bargaining agreement will lift restrictions on how much shared revenue the franchise can reap. While the amount the Coyotes will receive under the new guidelines hasn’t been confirmed, Gosbee believes it is enough -- coupled with $15 million the club will receive each year from Glendale to manage the arena, as well as untapped revenue sources such as suite sales and corporate sponsorships -- that believes the team can at least break even very quickly.

“There’s not one thing you can point to, but when you add them up with stable ownership, we think this is a great situation,” said Gosbee, estimating that the team has already sold 10 new luxury suites since Glendale approved the arena-lease agreement on July 2. “Some of the things on that list can fail and we can still be successful.”

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Comments

awould's avatar

See? That wasn’t so hard, now was it?

Posted by awould on 08/05/13 at 01:59 PM ET

Hank1974's avatar

And the Coyote fans go wild!!! wink

Posted by Hank1974 on 08/05/13 at 01:59 PM ET

awould's avatar

hey wait a minute. that’s not jobing.com arena. that’s a stock photo!

Posted by awould on 08/05/13 at 02:24 PM ET

Mandingo's avatar

Phoenix Coyotes hockey: TASTE THE EXCITEMENT

Posted by Mandingo from The Garage on 08/05/13 at 02:36 PM ET

awould's avatar

That dude in the middle looks like he just woke up and is trying to figure out where he is.

Posted by awould on 08/05/13 at 02:45 PM ET

Savage Henry's avatar [quoteThat dude in the middle looks like he just woke up and is trying to figure out where he is.]

Ambien is a hell of a drug.

Posted by Savage Henry on 08/05/13 at 03:29 PM ET

Savage Henry's avatar

That dude in the middle looks like he just woke up and is trying to figure out where he is.

Ambien is a hell of a drug.

Posted by Savage Henry on 08/05/13 at 03:30 PM ET

Savage Henry's avatar

I’ll submit as many times as i have to!

Anyway, are we going to have a pool to bet on the timing of the next bankruptcy?  Does anybody have four years yet?

Posted by Savage Henry on 08/05/13 at 03:30 PM ET

awould's avatar

The only thing holding me back from declaring that it will succeed in Phoenix is the location of the arena. It is too far from the major population and money in metro Phoenix. That and the team needs to win more, make the playoffs and advance at least one round occasionally.

I’d expect ticket sales to increase based solely on having an actual owner and a promise that the team isn’t leaving anytime soon. Tippet is a solid coach and if he can get the team to the playoffs and have some success, that would obviously help. I’m curious to see how Maloney does with an owner that isn’t the NHL.

I’m just glad it’s over so hockey can move forward in Phoenix. The wins need to come, but between a new owner and an improving economy, the team has a shot to succeed and no more excuses remain.

Posted by awould on 08/05/13 at 04:39 PM ET

SYF's avatar

I’m having giggle shits like you wouldn’t believe.  If Vegas gets awarded an NHL team, this whole drama is going to happen.  Right now, the ECHL Wranglers have a good owner and I think he also owns a minor league baseball team in the SoCal area and he’s a smart money manager, but he’s still a bean-counting money manager.  What local billionaire owner in Vegas with the same hard-core dedication as Mike Ilitch is willing to bankroll a pro hockey team in the world’s best hockey league?  As much as I love Vegas, sorry, I just don’t see this town getting an NHL team at all.

Posted by SYF from The Revenge of Johnny E on 08/05/13 at 05:46 PM ET

Avatar

The only thing holding me back from declaring that it will succeed in Phoenix is the location of the arena.

Well, hopefully that and common sense and/or a basic grasp of history.

Phoenix has won 50, 43, 42 and (paced) 36 the past four years.  Were ‘wins’ the issue, the issue wouldn’t be an issue.  They’ve been plenty successful enough to be financially viable, were they in anything approaching a decent market.

But they aren’t.  Do you know who knows this?  The guys who bought the team.

Critics have noted that IceArizona has a five-year out clause it can exercise if its losses should equal or exceed $50 million over that span,

Losses averaging 10 mil a year?  Give me a break.  That’s cutting their yearly operation losses in half.  That’s not happening, not with the current structure of the NHL.

They’re going to start shopping where to move the team and getting new arena construction deals put together on the down lo pretty much from when the puck drops in the very first game.

Over?  We just saw the end of Act 1 in a three act play.  Act 2 is going to be the Special Forces portion of the event, wherein the new owners act like they are thrilled to be in Glendale while they cash those muni checks and try not to soak any personal losses by day, and by night they are going to be running Recon Force Ops to acquire a landing spot for the team in 2019.  Act 3 is going to be the Extraction Operation where the owners prepare the ground for departure (“we really really tried hard to make it work but the losses were just to great, serious you guys”) while they finalize the contest for ‘which muni will give us the most money and build us the nicest stadium’?

Over.  Heh.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 08/05/13 at 06:18 PM ET

shanetx's avatar

That dude in the middle looks like he just woke up and is trying to figure out where he is.

Posted by awould on 08/05/13 at 03:45 PM ET

Until I read HiHD’s supremely cynical (and probably accurate) take on the future of this saga, I was going to suggest that the buyer probably has the exact same look on his face right now.

Posted by shanetx from Floydada, Texas on 08/05/13 at 06:32 PM ET

awould's avatar

Does your history include all relevant facts or just those that support your conclusion? Having lived in Phoenix throughout their history here, I can tell you the ownership saga and uncertainty of their always-pending relocation was a huge factor in attendance. That and the fact that Phoenix was especially hard hit in the recession.

Posted by awould on 08/05/13 at 06:33 PM ET

Avatar

Does your history include all relevant facts or just those that support your conclusion? Having lived in Phoenix throughout their history here, I can tell you the ownership saga and uncertainty of their always-pending relocation was a huge factor in attendance.

Uh-huh.

In 2001, Phoenix drew 14,224 per game, 27th in the NHL.
In 2002, Phoenix drew 13,165 per game, 29th in the NHL.
In 2003, Phoenix drew 13,229 per game, 29th in the NHL.
In 2004, Phoenix drew 15,467 per game, 19th in the NHL.
In 2006, Phoenix drew 15,582 per game, 22nd in the NHL.
In 2007, Phoenix drew 14,988 per game, 24th in the NHL.

So a) even when there weren’t cataclysmic ownership thunderstorms the Coyotes still couldn’t draw, still had well below league average ticket prices, and still lost loads of money.  B) as I said the whole ownership mess hasn’t even remotely gone away.  It’ll be quiet for a year or two, tops, but when that second year of 13-16 million dollar losses rolls across the ownership groups’ balance sheet suddenly that ‘50 mil over 5 years’ number is going to get noised around a little bit, and then suddenly some other dumb mayor in some other dumb city will start talking about how they’d loooooove to have an NHL team, et cetera.  And you Phoenix people will be on the ride again.

Look, I’m not trying to be a hater here.  I’m just trying to inject a little realism into the situation.  A team does not go from losing 20+ mil a year to being a long-term success.  It does not happen.  The current CBA does not allow teams like Phoenix to have owners who play cheap teams at a break even point until NHL hockey is established enough to warrant even a little more spending.

Until I read HiHD’s supremely cynical

Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens, Oklahoma City Thunder, Miami Marlins, Dallas Stars, Colorado Aalanche, Sacramento Kings, New Orleans Hornets…

It’s not cynicism, it’s just a recitation of history in pro-sports.  The new owners are taking advantage of Glendale’s willingness (I would say stupidity, but different strokes) to float some of their short term losses while they shop around for the long term landing spot for the team.  If, contrary to history, economics and common sense it somehow works out in Glendale… well, cool.  They have a pretty nice deal there.  If, much much MUCH more likely, things turn into a gigantic economic bleepstorm for them they can kiss Glendale good bye and likely write their own ticket somewhere dumber and even more desperate than Phoenix.

Dudes don’t get rich enough to actually buy a team by being idiots, usually.  In every case I have absolutely unshakeable trust that they know how to make money better than anyone in a muni knows how to protect their constituents.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 08/05/13 at 07:34 PM ET

Avatar

I am happy for the fans that stuck through this nightmare. No franchise in sports history has had the the dagger of moving hang over their head for as long as this team did. In fact their attendance increased as the debacle evolved. They have a great arena, the Westgate center is nice and a lot of population is moving west in the Valley. That doesn’t change the fact the arena should have been built in Scottsdale, but it is what it is. If the team can boost attendance to 16,000 with decent ticket prices and all of the subsidies, it might go.  I appreciate that the NHL supported this franchise when it would have been easy to move. Unlike the NBA who whores itself to get new arenas, Bettman stood firm. You can claim he is being dumb, but I appreciate his loyalty and commitment to Arizona.  I say this as someone who would have benefited greatly from a proposed move of the team to Seattle. But, I am very happy that hockey has a chance in the desert. I hope to hear the Yotes howl for many more seasons.

Posted by timbits on 08/05/13 at 09:54 PM ET

awould's avatar

One thing all those seasons had in common was a poor record. They made the playoffs once. That may affect the attendance.

For instance, in the 2005/2006 season (ESPN numbers), Phoenix had better attendance than Chicago, Washington, Nashville, Anaheim, and New Jersey. I’m guessing those teams had crap attendance because their teams sucked, just like Phoenix. The problem for Phoenix was, they never had a chance to rebound when their owner went BK and the floor fell out of the economy. No matter how good the team was, it was a lot to ask fans to choose to spend money they no longer had on a team that was probably skipping town.

I’m sure you’re right about the new owners having a contingency plan in their back pocket, that’s probably why they included it in their contract. But I doubt it is Plan A as your supremely cynical post implies.

My guess is they’d love nothing more than to make it work here. They’d like to make it work here for the same reason the NHL went so far out of their way - because it is already a sizable market and it is growing faster than any other.

All I’m saying is stable ownership with the promise of sticking around, with a recovering economy and a team that makes the playoffs (by no means guaranteed), will set them on a good path and I believe it can work here. I think your points are valid, but you ignore salient and important factors that contributed to their current mess.

Posted by awould on 08/05/13 at 10:20 PM ET

Riviera's avatar

Gosbee said there are numerous factors that make Phoenix attractive, including its quality-of-life draw to free agents, the untapped corporate sponsorship possibilities and the large population.

I’m sorry, but “untapped corporate sponsorship possibilities” is a farce here in the Valley. Anyone who really knows the business side of this city knows that the large corporations here are few and far between. Sure, it’s supposedly a great city for small business, but there are very few large corporations located in Phoenix - at least not the kind that can support corporate sponsorship of a professional sports team.

And as many have alluded to, the arena is in the wrong part of town. They had originally proposed building it between Scottsdale, Tempe and Mesa in the East Valley - just north of Tempe Marketplace and Tempe Town Lake. Had they done that, they would be so much closer to a fan base that may have been able to keep the seats at least somewhat filled.

Posted by Riviera from Phoenix on 08/06/13 at 12:07 AM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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