Updated: Arizona votes to keep Coyotes for another season … and beyond

As expected, the Glendale City Council agreed to pay the NHL an additional $25 million that would keep the Coyotes in Arizona for another season. The vote, 5-2, was agreed upon late Tuesday night. The city paid the NHL $25 million last week for operating expenses for the league-owned team for last season.

With the Coyotes safe for another season, the NHL can continue to work out a deal with prospective buyer Matthew Hulsizer. It could also search for another owner as the deal with Hulsizer has been complicated and been met with some resistance from a local watchdog group concerned with the use of taxpayer money.

The vote could prove to be more than a one-year fix despite the on-going ownership issue. Included by the vote was a provision that the NHL has the right to renew the agreement annually for 10 years. That could mean up to $250 million to the league to cover the losses incurred by the franchise.

Phoenix has long had the eye of True North Sports and Entertainment, a Winnipeg group interested in purchasing the franchise and relocating it to Manitoba.

The news is not good for the Thrashers as True North is likely to move its efforts to obtain a team to Atlanta.

“We are continuing to seek solutions for the Thrashers,” Thrashers co-owner Bruce Levenson told the AJC Wednesday. “I will  not comment on any speculation.”

The Atlanta Spirit has been trying to sell the Thrashers in earnest for several years. Co-owner Michael Gearon Jr. told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in February, and again last week, that there is a “sense of urgency” to find a buyer and/or investor to keep the team here. If one can not be found, relocation is possible. With Winnipeg ready to pay $170 million, $60 million which would go to the NHL as a relocation fee, the door is open.

I was told this week that such a deal “could move quickly.”

I know this is not good news for Thrashers fans. The fact is there is a possibility Atlanta could lose an NHL franchise for the second time. A move may not come in time for next year. It may not come at all. The search does continue for a local buyer with at least two groups expressing interest in keeping the team here. However talks have not moved past the preliminary stage. Perhaps Tuesday’s news out of Arizona will speed up the process.

I expect a lot more will be known in the next 7-10 days.

Colleague Tim Tucker and I continue to report this story and will bring you any news as there are developments.

148 comments Add your comment

EMerckx69

May 11th, 2011
2:15 pm

@Stick’em – “We need to get Blank to buy the team…beg him if we have to. Atlanta needs hockey and we have supported this team very well.”

The NFL has strong ownership restrictions. The NFL forbids its majority owners from owning any sports teams (except for soccer teams and Arena Football League teams). Although I have heard different reports on about this, I’m not sure if they can’t own any other sports teams or if they can’t own any other sports teams in other NFL cities.

If Blank did buy the Thrashers there are two things I know that would happen. First there would be a significant increase in ticket prices and then the Thrashers would become a team that contends every year. In 8 years Blank has increased ticket prices over 100%. Even his cheapest $100 season tickets that were introduced in 2003 have increased 250%

Chris Vivlamore

May 11th, 2011
2:19 pm

Aardvark Base: Yes. It was me on the radio in Winnipeg at the time. The host told me of what was to have been said about the Thrashers moving. I, obviously, had not heard them. It’s not that I said nothing to refute it. It came at the end of an interview where I had said many times the situation is still up in the air.

Jason

May 11th, 2011
2:22 pm

When I see the “Leave C-Viv Alone!” comments, all I can think of is this…..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHmvkRoEowc

Brendan

May 11th, 2011
2:23 pm

Can a season ticket holder please call their rep today, and ask about the 2012-13 season? I’m just curious as to their response.

EMerckx69

May 11th, 2011
2:36 pm

The only way Hockey can make it in Atlanta is to move the club outside of I-285 where vast majority of Hockey fans reside.

@hop – Few fans desire to fight the traffic to go Downtown to pay huge parking fees when the Gwinnett Hockey team does not charge for parking.
the Team needs to be closer to its fan base which will never happen because of the politics involved in having all teams located downtown.

True the Thrashers arena needs to be on the nothside of town. Atlanta now has 5 seperate ice rinks on the northside that are within 35 miles of each other. With 7 sheets of ice between the rinks including the ICE facility that opened less than a year ago, I hear that there is still a need for more ice. You have people driving 60+ miles away from Athens to play hoceky in Atlanta and they are Thrashers season ticketholders. All the youth leagues are on the northside of town and most of the people don’t work downtown. I love Philips Arena, but a winning team and an arena closer to the other rinks would be great.

Hockey Biltong

May 11th, 2011
2:38 pm

Jason, that was awesome!!How on earth did you come across this?lmfao….

East Point Bob

May 11th, 2011
2:39 pm

Look folks,chris vivlamore is a joke. He has been and is being used by asg as their little bitch to go out and say what they want, when they want. Think back people, he has never never never asked tough, hard hitting questions, to which true answers would have had to be given. All he has done has been their little mouthpiece to give out what, they wanted, not the truth. He is likely on their payroll as well. Does anybody remember him asking Waddell any serious meaningful questions,
they type Waddell could never answer, because he is such a liar ? No, he asks very soft, easy to answer questions, a baby could answer. If there is anyone out there who thinks he is not asg’s little bitch, speak now or forever hold your peace. He is the worst hockey writer I have ever seen and if the team moves, I hope he does too. Too bad Jeff Schultz is not covering the team, he takes no crap off no owners !

Hockey Biltong

May 11th, 2011
2:40 pm

EPB – tell us how you really feel! Jeff Schultz? Really?

too many on the ICE

May 11th, 2011
2:44 pm

vivlamore is a little asg “bitch” – LOL that was good.

Chris Vivlamore

May 11th, 2011
2:49 pm

Jason: Too bad you couldn’t insert my name for hers. THAT would be awesome.

Sage of Bluesland

May 11th, 2011
2:51 pm

“…I spoke to Gearon for two and a half hours – not 15 minutes. The owners simply can’t answer that question. They can’t talk about another team or city like that. ‘That is a question for the NHL’ would be the response. I hope this helps.”

I think I can read between those lines rather well.

I just hope Don Waddell moves with the team. The thought of that imbecilic fraud still enjoying what ‘my’ city offers makes me very, very angry.

It has all been a fraud from day-one. Yet, some of you still put hard-earned dollars into their completely undeserving pockets?! I cannot fathom the depths of such idiocy.

I trust Vivlamore one heck of a lot more than that blowhard Kincade. If I want to listen to a self-righteous, pompous, jack@$$, I know what station to tune to during that time-slot….but, as you would imagine, I don’t subsidize his incompetence (either).

(It’s funny, a couple of months ago, a friend informed me that during one of his daily diatribes, he blamed ‘me’ for the loss of the Thrashers…and my attitude concerning the lack of support! Yeah, it was MY fault…Ownership or management incompetence has absolutely NOTHING to do with the lack of interest which is leading to the impending move?! Sure, OK.)

Smoothie

May 11th, 2011
2:57 pm

Joe Friday et al – sorry to break it to you, but Kincade is on to this story whether you like him or not:

Jay Clemons of Sports Illustrated just tweeted this comment: “The Balkan is real, always has been. It’s a shame NO ONE ever asked the right sources.”

Just as Kincade said weeks ago, there is one national writer who is also familiar with the Balkan and knows his identity.

It is my belief that ASG is purposely feeding C-Viv a line of bull as they’ve always done; afterall it is how they operate. Meanwhile, something IS going on behind the scenes. The big question is WILL THE ASG PART WITH ALL 3 PROPERTIES? Or will they obfuscate and try to unload the Thrashers only to the *only* bidder willng to buy just the Thrashers (True North that is). No smart businessman(men) in his/their right minds would enter into an arrangement with ASG to own only the Thrashers without a half share of ops rights and revenues. Period.

too many on the ICE

May 11th, 2011
3:05 pm

Who is the “the Balkan”? CViv, care to comment on that?

Nate

May 11th, 2011
3:16 pm

Nate: What is not new about the resolution in Phoenix? And how that applies to the Thrashers?

Chris – Because that is the same crap that has been reported on other sites for weeks now. That whole voting process was a mere formality. And again, it’s still PHOENIX. It has nothing to do with Atlanta until Bettman or another higher up in the league office says it does. Your report is pure speculation about any ties between Phoenix, Atlanta, and Winnipeg’s situation. Any Thrashers fan on here already knows the bs coming out of the Canada media. We don’t care to hear the same crap from you. We expect better and NEW information.

The Canadian Media is the only source saying the Phoenix/Winnipeg situation is tied to Atlanta. I have not seen the league office say anything like that. That’s what’s wrong with your article IMO.

Frontman

May 11th, 2011
3:22 pm

The good news: the Hawks lost last night. Please continue to join me in wishing only pain and suffering to them. Let’s hope for a 40-pojnt blowout loss at home tomorrow to end their season and actually hurt the ASG in the worst possible way – basketball is the only thing they care about anyway.
B@st@rds…

too many on the ICE

May 11th, 2011
3:22 pm

Also, how can you talk to Gearon for 2.5 hours and not get anything of substance out of him?

Tom Lysiak

May 11th, 2011
3:23 pm

This team will only be saved by the intervention of the league. You can claim all day that you want the team to remain here and are working toward that goal, but why would you believe that with their track record? If they are determined to hold on to the arena and the Hawks and sell the Thrash to another entity, under the terms they demand, or allow them to move, which do you think will happen? They could work out satisfactory terms of leasing by following other similar arrangements if they wanted to. When someone writes that the firm they have retained is telling interested parties that the team can be moved, if that is true, that is the worst possible sign. Seems too easy for them to divest themselves of their stepchild for a huge profit (on their purchase price) and start filling empty dates on the calendar….unless the league steps in and does something. You also have the problem of another league and it’s interests and they could clash. I don’t see how the frat boys can be forced to sell both teams and the building. This smells like 1980 all over again. The Balkan better be real.

Frontman

May 11th, 2011
3:26 pm

too many,
Because Gearon doesn’t give a sh!t about hockey. He’s a complete tool.

too many on the ICE

May 11th, 2011
3:32 pm

Don Wad told us repeatedly during the Thrasher Town Hall meetings over the last 6 yrs (that I was a ticket holder) that the Thrashers were not going to move.

He is either (1) a liar, (2) an idiot, or (3) both. What is your vote?

EA

May 11th, 2011
3:35 pm

So many of you have said it, the league knows the deal with this ownership group. Atlanta fans deserve a chance to have a hockey team with an ownership group behind it that wants to achieve success. Bettman has a big hand in this situation. All speculation can be put to rest when he informs us about the situation.

Winnipeg Jet

May 11th, 2011
3:37 pm

Sorry I’m late. Did I miss anything?

Darkhorse

May 11th, 2011
3:42 pm

@Winnipeg Jet-Nope, you’re still without a team and we are still without real owners.

Winnipeg Jet

May 11th, 2011
3:45 pm

It could stay that way for a long time Darkhorse.

R. Stroz

May 11th, 2011
3:55 pm

JPVJ

May 11th, 2011
4:07 pm

Does anyone know the guy that would walk around with a tin foiled Stanley Cup through the aisles ?? Does anyone know him ?? What does he have to say ??? Tell him to break his silence and join the cause !!!

JPVJ

May 11th, 2011
4:12 pm

Vive la feuille d’étain !!!!

Winnipeg Wisdom

May 11th, 2011
4:38 pm

Obviously with my name you know where I am from. I attended Jets games in all but one year they were in the NHL.

The facts regarding Winnipeg is that the team may be a success at the gate for the first two or three seasons. But if the team is a standings bottom feeder attendence will be the same as it currently is in the US markets which are mentioned.

I have experienced my teams moving to other cities and felt the pain. For you hockey fans in Atlanta I wish you the best in saving your team. And I agree, Bettman should match the efforts he performed in Phoenix for your city.

too many on the ICE

May 11th, 2011
5:35 pm

Winnipeg Wisdom: if the same roster transfers up to Winnipeg you will not make the playoffs. All they do is make excuses. I am getting sick of watching their lack of skill. You can have them.

WTF?

May 11th, 2011
6:00 pm

Hockey would work in Atlanta if they could mix in some redneck activities or ghetto activities to bring people to watch a game. If a sport doesn’t involve a ball or an engine it just won’t be popular in Atlanta. That’s the sad truth. That’s why only a fool would buy season tickets right now. Maybe if the tickets came with roundtrip airfare to Canada for each home game with the Winnipeg Thrashers and the price was right! It will be a sad day in Atlanta when they move the team

sisu

May 11th, 2011
6:38 pm

lot’s of opinion little certainty…time will tell. I hope the team is here for years to come.

So for those in gwinnett, would you drive to cobb to see a game? Probably not…silly how many people think the teams should be in their back yard but if it is somewhere else then it is too far.

Brendan

May 11th, 2011
6:38 pm

To quote Britney Spears, “3.”

Northern Man Hockey's in the Blood

May 11th, 2011
7:04 pm

Simply watching a Thrashers game shown on T.V. shows the support for the hockey team is next to nothing. Seats are always empty and you get what 5,000 PAID fans a game .How many seats are given away in hopes that they buy $20-$30 bucks in food and drinks. Give them to Winnipeg already……..SAVE YOUR MONEY ie: TAX $$$$$

Cordell

May 11th, 2011
7:41 pm

I am from Winnipeg and I feel for you guys because we went through the same thing. I heard these same arguments when Winnipeg lost their team.It is not the fan base or the market that makes a difference, it is the businessmen running the franchise. We had people who didn’t know how to run a hockey team and were losing too much money. I don’t know about the Atlanta situation but it sounds the same.
The NHL is a marketable product and there appears to be enough people in Atlanta who would support it but the owner of the team doesn’t know how to make that work so he wants out. No one can be found in Atlanta to buy the team from him. We had the same problem 15 years ago in Winnipeg. Things have changed in Winnipeg and now there is someone who can make it work, but if it wasn’t Winnipeg it would have been somewhere else.
I know exactly what you are going though

B. Thenet

May 11th, 2011
9:17 pm

When the NHL’s Bill Daly is done chasing around crazy old men that show up to Glendale City Council meetings in hopes he can close a deal for the Yotes, perhaps you can ask him where the NHL’s dogged defense of a Thrashers franchise that was far worse on ice than the Yotes with better attendance and lost less money.

Brian west palm beach

May 11th, 2011
10:00 pm

I have been gone from atlanta for 2 years the hardest part has been watching from south fl with center ice. I used to bring 10 people to every game i went to. I had to leave atlanta because jobs were not available. Its tough up there i know people who still have not found work after 2 years since housing market collapse, so hockey was not a priority. Now things are starting to look better. My plan is to be back by Christmas. My rowdy redneck friends will be with me and yes if sport an oppositions jersey be ready to move you might get beer poured on you. 2011-12 season here we come and if you wear a jets jersey to our games lets hope you can defend yourself.

AtlFlamesFan

May 11th, 2011
10:06 pm

litz

May 11th, 2011
10:50 pm

Eklund does not exactly have the world’s best track record on such things …

R. Stroz

May 11th, 2011
11:14 pm

If the team is moved, the ASG owners better be prepared for a really revealing present.

Pete Puck

May 11th, 2011
11:36 pm

How could so may people scew up so badly that the Thrashers are possibly leaving town….Don Waddell, “Blueland” marketing tag, all those eastern european players whose names are difficult to pronounce; poor franchise name and logo — what exactly is the team’s primary uniform color?; refusal to keep expensive talent; 0-4 playoff record over 11 seasons…..the list drones on and on. In the end, they have become a souless franchise that’s nearly impossible to connect with at any emotional level as a fan; and finally an ownership group that is one of the worst in the history of professional sports.
Atlanta deserves a viable NHL franchise, but the clowns from the Trahsers administrative team will never deliver viability. After a decade of lowering expectations, I’m ready to wish them fairwell. I don’t know if we will ever receive another nhl frachise, but I’d rather go without nhl in atl over tyring to bond to the this very unlovable organization . Please leave town as soon as possible.

Disgusted Fan

May 11th, 2011
11:52 pm

Don f*cking Waddell (he alone has screwed this franchise into the grave) and the Atlanta Spirit clown posse are fixing to bend Atlanta over along with Gary Bettman, one disengenuos sorry *ss piece of detritus. This is just incredible. Hockey failing in Phoenix and the league is going to allow the clown posse to sell and have the team moved in order to fund the failure in the desert. Classic, just classic.

Jason

May 11th, 2011
11:58 pm

Anyone else thinking of buying a ticket to the Hawks game (from a scalper) and throwing a Thrashers jersey on the court?

Crazy Diamond

May 12th, 2011
2:10 am

We are so screwed.

AtlFlamesFan

May 12th, 2011
4:38 am

Hey Jason, While you are at it, throw a beer in Gearon’s face.

AtlFlamesFan

May 12th, 2011
5:10 am

Why Bettmen would abandon Atlanta after working so hard to save Phoenix, Tampa Bay, Nashville, Raleigh, and Florida does not make sense. The only explanation I could think of is his ego. He has gone out on a limb trying to save Phoenix, a market that has never worked. In order to cover his @ss and the losses incurred by the NHL, he is sacrificing Atlanta in order to get the $60M transfer fee. May the b@stard burn he h#ll with ASG.

KLS1

May 12th, 2011
7:16 am

Enter your comments here

KLS1

May 12th, 2011
7:21 am

I am starting to get pissed…these asg guys are beyond scum. I hope the NBA goes on strike and they are all living in an empty arena with no hot water this time next year.

Swede

May 12th, 2011
7:26 am

Just too sad if they leave because of IDIOT owners and a don waddell. That´s just how it is. They have ruined this, and it´s all their fault. WHY cant bettman see it???????????????????

WTF?

May 12th, 2011
10:24 am

A perennial losing team does about 90% of the damage of not having generated any interest in Atlanta. The Thrashers have been a revolving door for top NHL talent and then decides to finally sign what they deem to be a top talent in Buff for 5 years!!! What about signing Hossa, Kovalchuk? Now they decide it’s time to plan for the future with Buff as the cornerstone? Seriously? Let them go to Canada maybe they’ll become a winning organization. I would like to see Evander Kane and Chris Thorburn go to Chicago and get a chance to win a championship because they are the best 2 players on the current Thrashers roster