Two years ago, the NHL, in an attempt to keep the Coyotes in Arizona rather than watch the franchise possibly move its operations elsewhere, sold the organization to an outfit called IceArizona. And for a while, all seemed well, as the Coyotes and the Phoenix suburb of Glendale signed a 15-year deal in which the city would pay the Coyotes $15 million annually to play their games and keep team headquarters in the town.
But on Wednesday, the Glendale City Council voted to cancel the 2-year-old deal, using a loophole that says an Arizona city government can cancel an agreement that is less than three years old if, according to the Washington Post, “someone who helped negotiate the agreement for that government subsequently takes a job with the other party.”
Since the city is apparently losing $8 million a year on the agreement, the council decided to put an end to it.
And Coyote fans are mad. Really mad. Mad enough for this Coyotes supporter, Ronda Pearson, to approach Glendale mayor Jerry Weiers at the city council meeting and tear him limb from limb.
Props to Pearson for, despite her clear and apparent anger, not cursing and managing to showcase her immense passion at the same time, especially when you know she doesn’t hold back on her Twitter account—though she has deleted some of the more foul-mouthed tweets, including one where she suggests the team sue the shit out of the city.
Which is certainly a possibility. The basis of the argument the council was making is that the Coyotes hired former city attorney Craig Tindall in 2013, but as the Arizona Republic reported then, that was before the NHL and IceArizona struck a deal. So, according to those on the Coyotes’ side, Tindall wasn’t employed by the city at the time of the deal and, therefore, Glendale’s argument of a negotiator changing sides within three years is moot. The city contends that even though Tindall wasn’t employed at the time, Glendale was still paying him a salary and using him as a consultant.
Nick Wood, outside counsel for the team, said the vote “is a blatant attempt to renege on a valid contract that was negotiated fairly and in good faith and in compliance with all laws and procedures. In the event the City Council initiates any action to revoke, repeal or otherwise rescind the agreement, the Coyotes will immediately take all actions available to them under the law against the City of Glendale.”
Coyotes co-owner, president, and CEO Anthony LeBlanc added: “This action by the City of Glendale is completely ludicrous, especially in light of the fact that myself and [majority owner] Andrew Barroway visited with the City yesterday and the particulars of this were never raised. In fact, we to this moment have not been advised of this other than the notification on the City website. The City of Glendale is displaying a complete lack of good faith, business acumen or an understanding of a business partnership. We want to reassure our great fans that the Arizona Coyotes are committed to Glendale and playing at Gila River Arena.”
After the vote was complete, the team raised their rhetoric a notch.
Coyotes attorney Nick Wood: "The damage has been done. How do we negotiate our way out of being shot in the head by the city?"
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) June 11, 2015
As for the franchise’s future? It’s unclear. The Post opines that the Coyotes could move to Las Vegas, to another city that wants its NHL fix, or back to downtown Phoenix, where the team played from 1996-2003. Or the team could take the city to court.
As for Weiers’ immediate future?
Screengrab via Don’t Tase Me Bro/YouTube