The future direction of the Arizona Coyotes is once again in limbo after the Glendale City Council voted to end an arena lease agreement with the beleaguered NHL ice hockey franchise.
The council voted 5-2 to end a 15-year, $225m (€206m) lease agreement signed by Glendale and IceArizona, the operator of the Coyotes, shortly after the team was acquired from the NHL in 2013. The NHL purchased the franchise out of bankruptcy to safeguard the future of the Coyotes before a new owner could be found.
“We’ve all taken a beating tonight here, and I think it’s all unjust because most of the fans don’t understand the complexity of this issue,” Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers said. “The complexity of this issue is the fact that you don’t have all the information. When you have more information, I think you will have a better understanding.”
Before the vote, the City of Glendale said that it would be open to renegotiating the arena deal – although the franchise has already ruled out that eventuality. Nick Wood, the Coyotes’ outside counsel, said that the franchise would file for injunctive relief, a temporary restraining order, and file a $200m lawsuit against the local authority.
“At this point the damage has been done,” Wood told the Globe and Mail newspaper. “How do we negotiate our way out of being shot in the head by the city?”
The city has been accused by the team and its fans of attempting to use a loophole to renegotiate terms on the lease agreement. A state statute dictates that an agency can cancel a contract if an employee directly involved with the agreement becomes an employee or agent of the other party. The Coyotes hired former city attorney Craig Tindall as general counsel in 2013.
“What we have witnessed here tonight is possibly the most shameful exhibition of government I have ever witnessed,” Coyotes co-owner Anthony LeBlanc said at the meeting yesterday (Wednesday) evening. “The citizens of Glendale should be very concerned about the government that they have leading them right now, because this was not appropriate.”