Thursday, 11 June 2015

The Phoenix Coyotes won't leave, like a guest who overstayed his welcome.

The 19-year saga of the Phoenix Coyotes, one which we were assured by spin-ster Gary Bettman was now concluded, launched a new chapter last night when Glendale city council voted to revoke the lease agreement it has with IceArizona, one which sees the city pay $15M a year to the owners for...for what exactly?

Anyway, evidently this will land before the courts, with the Coyotes suing the city for the right to remain, and the Glendalians wanting them gone.

This is Bizarro World. Le monde à l’envers.

I’ve seen cities suing owners and leagues to keep their teams, to prevent owners from absconding with their teams (Jim Irsay, Art ‘Weasel’ Modell, Al Davis, Marcel Aubut, Jeffrey Loria), but are we going to witness a team refusing to leave an apathetic fan base and hostile city? Are they going to sue to remain in place when they’re not wanted? Are they going to act like toddlers who flop and play dead and tantrumate when you try to pick them up when it’s time to leave?

The $15M yearly payment from the city to the team is supposedly to compensate the ownership for the cost of maintaining and managing the arena. Sure, I expect there’s a margin of profit built in, but doesn’t it set off alarm bells when the team tries to cling to that payment? Like maybe there’s a lot of fat in that contract, the margin might be overly generous?

Especially when you consider that Évenko, the Canadiens arena management team, was rattling its sabre about not being allowed to bid on the management contract for Le Colisée, they wanted to pay Québec City for the privilege of running the place. Somehow it’s the other way around in Glendale.

Never mind that somehow Fortress Investment, a rapacious hedge fund run by twits in New York is somehow involved in all of this, that apparently the $15M is apparently being pocketed by them instead of, you know, paying for paint and lightbulbs and stuff. After witnessing first-hand their star turn in bleeding Whistler Blackcomb dry, I don’t find this very hard to believe.

Gary Bettman assured us that the IceEdge guys were serious, solid investors, and said the same when it became IceArizona.  Until a year later, they'd sold 51% of their interest to Andrew Barroway, and we were told this was to secure the investment, give the franchise even more stability.  But really, they didn't have that money, they borrowed it from a loan sharkFortress.

I missed the Gary Bettman between-periods interview with Scott Oake last night, and don’t really have the stomach to expose myself to toxic levels of his special brand of oily obstreperousness, but Stéphane Langdeau on L’Antichambre said he was combative, and lectured the citizens of Glendale on what they should and shouldn’t do.

Right on Gary! Keep making friends.

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