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Thrashers, Hawks, Philips Arena Have Potential New Owner, According To Report

In a move that should be very attractive to the NHL and NBA as far as leasing an arena (more on that in a bit), apparently one group of prospective owners has been kicking the tires of the Atlanta Thrashers, Atlanta Hawks, and Philips Arena. This apparently has been the news that John Kincade on 680 The Fan has been mentioning for a little while. Per Kincade:

I can tell you that the party is VERY excited with the possibility and I believe that we will have some news to report soon. That news will NOT be of a purchase. My best guess is that it will be a request for an exclusive negotiating period to purchase the teams and arena operation. If granted, then you will be introduced to the potential new owner.

Honestly, I wouldn’t expect news of a purchase considering all of the issues that have to be worked out with not one but two major sports leagues. This is positive news, though, because this signifies that the Thrashers have an increased chance to stay in Atlanta. By purchasing the team and Philips Arena, the new owners would not only be able to easily subsidize any losses the hockey team might incur with revenues from concerts and the like, they also wouldn’t have to worry about dealing with the city in terms of a lease.

The Phoenix Coyotes, though, do have to deal with being a tenant of the arena, as well as the city owning the parking and such around the rink. The city of Glendale is trying to sell bonds backed by the income from the parking to help finance Matthew Hulsizer’s purchase of the team. Hulsizer generated great excitement when he announced his plans to buy the team, because he wants to keep the Coyotes in Arizona. It’s hit a snag again, though, and this time the snag could mean one way tickets to Arizona for the team. From the Phoenix Business Journal, here’s some possible fixes for the situation:

• Reducing the amount of City of Glendale bonds for Hulsizer and the Coyotes from $100 million down to $70 million.
• Having the National Hockey League discount its estimated $170 million asking price for the team, plus this year’s $25 million to $30 million in losses it wants covered by Glendale or Hulsizer.
• Asking Hulsizer to contribute more than the current estimated $70 million he is putting into the transaction.
• Possibly leveraging $25 million Glendale previously allocated to help cover the Coyotes losses this season.
• Hoping the reduced bonds amount and financial changes lessen legal opposition to the deal from the Goldwater Institute watchdog group.

The Goldwater Institute is threatening to sue the city of Glendale, claiming that the bond sale is illegal. This is, of course, making investment very unattractive and driving up the price of the bonds. The new owner, along with the principles of the Coyotes new ownership are flying to Phoenix tonight to see if this all gets worked out sans lawsuit. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly will also be in attendance, signaling the seriousness of the matter. If a deal can’t be worked out with the city, the pending sale to the Coyotes will end, leaving True North Sports and Entertainment the leading interested buyer. TNSE has revealed that they intend to move the Coyotes back to Winnipeg as soon as possible.

Coyotes fans are hopeful something gets worked out soon, as are many fans of other teams. If something unfortunate happens and the ’Yotes become the Jets again, it would take some of the heat off of the Thrashers for now; at least until the Quebecois ramp up their focus on our team.

Of course, one would figure that actually paying attention to facts would get people off of the Thrashers’ backs, but that’s complicated.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.