Judge grants restraining order to Coyotes in arena lease dispute
A Maricopa County Superior Court judge granted the Arizona Coyotes' request for a temporary injunction to prevent the City of Glendale from voiding an arena lease agreement on Friday afternoon.
Superior Court Judge Dawn Bergin set another hearing on the dispute for June 29.
The request for the injunction was filed Friday morning, just two days after the City of Glendale voted to void its lease agreement with the Coyotes.
“The Arizona Coyotes have acted to defend their rights and reaffirm their continuing commitment to their great fans by seeking a restraining order to stop the City of Glendale’s baseless attack on, and improper attempt to void, the Coyotes' lawful and proper lease to play at Gila River Arena,” a statement released by the team read. “The suit was filed in Maricopa County Superior Court against the City of Glendale, the Glendale City Council and other City officials.”
The victory for the team sets the stage for what is expected to be a series of legal actions with one or more lawsuits seeking monetary damages in excess of $200 million as compensation for the alleged breach of contract by the city.
The Glendale City Council on Wednesday voted 5-2 to terminate a 15-year, $225 million agreement with the Coyotes, citing a conflict of interest law that precludes a former city employee from going to work for a company if that employee was involved in creating a contract between the city and the company.
The court's decision opens the door for a return to Gila River Arena. The Arizona Republic is reporting that the Glendale council will meet at 1 p.m. Tuesday in executive session to discuss the arena management deal with the Coyotes. Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers said in a statement that suggested the city is still trying to renegotiate the agreement.
"An opportunity for the two of us to discuss the issues has presented itself, and I am optimistic that with continue dialogue we can come to an agreement that satisfies both parties," Weiers told the paper.
It's viewed as highly unlikely however that the team will be open to any renegotiation of the original deal.
In the meantime, the TRO buys the organization time to weigh other options including a possible move to US Airways Arena in downtown Phoenix.
Phoenix mayor Greg Stanton pushed that idea to the forefront Friday, telling a local radio station that he had reached out to both the Coyotes and the NBA's Phoenix Suns and found both sides "willing to engage in discussions" about the shared use of the downtown arena. "I don't want to lose any important regional asset and I view the Coyotes as an important regional asset," the mayor said.
In other Coyotes news, a Phoenix radio station is reporting that majority owner Andrew Barroway is discussing the reduction of his stake in the franchise to a minority holding. Barroway became the chairman and governor of the Coyotes on Dec. 31, 2014 when he acquired a 51 percent share of the franchise for $152.5 million. It's not yet known whether members of the current ownership group would buy him down or if his stake might be available to outside interests.