Arizona Coyotes find resolution to legal dispute with city

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) The Arizona Coyotes and the city of Glendale agreed to amend an existing lease agreement on Thursday, though the deal may only be a temporary fix in the team's ongoing saga to remain in the desert.

The amended deal, which will be voted on by the Glendale City Council on Friday, calls for the original 15-year, $225 million agreement to be cut to two years, expiring on June 30, 2017.

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

''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,'' Coyotes co-owner and CEO Anthony LeBlanc said in a statement. ''We know that hockey works in the Valley and we are committed to Arizona for the long-term.''

The lease agreement was signed in 2013, not long after IceArizona purchased the team from the NHL.

The City Council voted June 10 to terminate the agreement with the Coyotes, citing a conflict-of-interest law involving two Glendale employees who later went on to work for the Coyotes.

A judge granted the Coyotes' request for a temporary restraining order two days later. A judge also ordered the city to make a scheduled $3.75 million payment to the team on June 29 and the Coyotes to increase their bond payment to Glendale by $750,000 to $1 million.

If passed, the amended arena lease agreement will keep the Coyotes in Gila River Arena for the next two seasons, but will likely further relocation speculation that has swirled around the team for the past six years. It could also open the door for the Coyotes to negotiate for a new arena in downtown Phoenix or look into other options.

''This revised agreement represents a positive outcome for both the city and the Coyotes,'' Glendale acting city manager Dick Bowers said in a statement. ''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.''

The Coyotes have faced an uncertain future since former owner Jerry Moyes took the team into bankruptcy in 2009. The team was operated by the NHL for four seasons before IceArizona, headed by LeBlanc and George Gosbee, purchased the team and reached an arena management deal with Glendale.

IceArizona sold a 51 percent stake in the team to Philadelphia hedge fund manager Andrew Barroway last year, a move designed to strengthen the team's financial footing.

Glendale's City Council put the Coyotes' future in doubt again with its vote to dissolve the lease agreement last month. The council cited an Arizona statute that allows a government entity to end an agreement if a person who worked on the deal later represents the other party. Former city attorney Craig Tindall is now the Coyotes general counsel and former Glendale communications director Julie Frisoni did consulting work for the team after leaving the city.

The new agreement requires IceArizona to terminate Tindall and not employ Frisoni.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.