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City mum on Coyotes negotiations

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George Witkowski

Posted: Wednesday, September 21, 2011 8:00 pm

With the Phoenix Coyotes dominating the sports, news, and business pages for everything but hockey, Glendale is scrambling to find an owner. In other words, some sort of a Plan B if finances become overwhelming.

Although the city has received interest in the Coyotes from two buyers, what happens if the deals drag on and do not materialize? Is there another plan in the works to fill the 17,707-seat Jobing.com Arena?

While Glendale received interest from former San Jose Sharks chief executive Greg Jamison last summer, and a second unnamed group to purchase the Coyotes, city officials are keeping quiet until the time is right.

City spokesperson Julie Watters was brief with her remarks regarding the situation.

"We are currently in a position not to give any comment because we're under negotiations," Watters said. "We're continuing to focus on finding an owner for the team as a solution."

Jennifer Stein, public information officer for Glendale, was also cautious in echoing Watters remarks.

"The City of Glendale is focusing our efforts on negotiations," Stein said.

"We remain optimistic that new ownership will be secured this season so that we can play in Glendale for many years to come." -- Rich Nairn, Senior Director of Media Relations, Phoenix Coyotes

Mayor Elaine Scruggs could not elaborate on details with the process incomplete.

"Negotiations among prospective buyers, the National Hockey League and the City of Glendale are ongoing and sensitive," Scruggs said. "I will not be commenting on the negotiations in any other Coyotes/arena-related matters until there are documents ready to be brought forward for discussion and possible votes."

Glendale must get a deal worked out to help pay off debt on the $180 million Jobing.com Arena. Since filing for bankruptcy in May 2009 under Jerry Moyes, the NHL has been the temporary owner.

The NHL bought the team in 2009 for $140 million, according to Forbes Magazine, but in 2010, the team's value dropped to $134 million. The Coyotes were 30th in the 30-team league, Forbes reported.

Glendale approved a 30-year lease agreement to keep the Coyotes in Glendale last Dec. 16, which beat the Dec. 31 deadline for finding an owner, or be forced to have the team relocated. However, the Coyotes are trying to be optimistic things will work out.

Rich Nairn, the team's senior director of media relations, said the Coyotes are in good shape - at least for the upcoming year.

"The Coyotes will play the entire 2011-12 NHL season at Jobing.com Arena," Nairn said. "We remain optimistic that new ownership will be secured this season so that we can play in Glendale for many years to come. We remain confident that new ownership will be secured during this season.

"Whichever ownership group purchases our franchise, it will be a multi-year agreement."

Reach the reporter at gwitkowski@star-times.com, or 623-847-4611.

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