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NHL’s Coyotes find resolution to legal dispute with Glendale

The Arizona Coyotes NHL ice hockey franchise has agreed a two-year deal to continue playing at Gila River Arena in Glendale following a legal dispute.

The agreement, which will run until June 30, 2017 should it be agreed by Glendale City Council later today (Friday), will cut the original 15-year deal that was signed by the two parties in 2013.

The new arrangement would also trim the management fee the city pays annually to the Coyotes from $15m (€13.6m) to $6.5m and shift all hockey-related revenue to the team instead of Glendale, which would generate approximately $6m per year for the Coyotes. A five-year out clause if the team lost more than $50m that was part of the original agreement has also been removed.

Anthony LeBlanc, Coyotes co-owner, president and chief executive, said: “We have come up with a resolution that works for both sides and is best for the team, our fans, the city and most importantly the taxpayers. Neither side benefits from a long, drawn out legal battle. What’s important is putting this dispute behind us and focusing on growing the Coyotes business and in turn, further growing revenues for the entire Westgate Entertainment District.

“This decision will bring much-needed certainty to our fans and sponsors about our near-term future and an end to the uncertainty brought about through this legal action. We know that hockey works in the Valley and we are committed to Arizona for the long-term. We thank Coyotes fans and sponsors for their incredible support throughout this process. They have proven that they are among the most loyal and ardent in the NHL.”

IceArizona, headed by LeBlanc and George Gosbee, purchased the team and reached an arena management deal with Glendale in 2013, but the City Council voted on June 10 to terminate the agreement, citing a conflict-of-interest law involving two Glendale employees who later went on to work for the Coyotes.

Dick Bowers, Glendale acting city manager, said: “This revised agreement represents a positive outcome for both the city and the Coyotes. It also allows us to move forward in a way that keeps an important economic driver in our community. That’s important for business and it’s important to our citizens.”

If passed, the amended lease agreement will keep the Coyotes at Gila River Arena for the next two NHL seasons, but will likely further add to the relocation speculation that has surrounded the franchise in recent years.