Four hours into Tuesday’s contentious meeting that drew passionate supporters, vocal critics and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, the Glendale City Council voted in favor of an arena deal with prospective owners of the Phoenix Coyotes.
The 15-year, $225 million lease agreement passed by the narrowest of margins – 4-3 – but it was enough to ensure the hockey team will remain at Jobing.com Arena where it’s resided since 2003.
The Council vote ensures the sale of the club from the NHL to investors Renaissance Sports & Entertainment and puts an end to Seattle’s pursuit of the Coyotes. If the deal with Glendale fell through, New York investors Ray Bartoszek and Anthony Lanza planned to purchase the team and move it to Seattle.
The vote ends a four-year struggle to find owners and a permanent home for the Coyotes, which filed for bankruptcy in 2009.
RSE must finalize its lease agreement with Glendale and its purchase of the team by Aug. 5.
“It’s been a long road, but I think people feel confident in the progress that we’ve made,” Bettman said after the meeting. “We are grateful to the council for their confidence in the new ownership group for the Coyotes moving forward.”
In addition to Bettman, Coyotes general manager Don Maloney and player Derek Morris and and deputy commissioner Bill Daly attended the meeting.
Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers, who voted against the deal, warned “the city is taking all of the risk.” He promised to work with RSE and hoped for the team’s success because “I have no other choice.”
“It’s a sad day when you put sports, a leisure, in front of our future, which is the kids,” said councilwoman Norma Alvarez, another critic of the deal.
Most observers felt the seven-member council was split 3-3 with coucilman Sammy Chavira being the swing vote. During the meeting, he said the Coyotes’ success is tied to Glendale’s success. Chavira voted in favor of the lease agreement.
“This is not a perfect deal by any means, but it’s certainly the best deal we’ve had,” said councilmember Manny Martinez, who voted for the arena deal.