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Statement from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on Sale of Coyotes

Tuesday, 03.08.2011 / 6:40 PM / News
Arizona Coyotes
EDITOR'S NOTE: Below is the statement from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on the Phoenix Coyotes released on March 8, 2011:

Photo by Associated Press.
“Thank you all for being here on what I understand was short notice. Our Executive Vice President and General Counsel David Zimmerman, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly and I have been here today, we’ve had a variety of meetings, and I felt at this point it would be both important and only fair to tell you what our understanding of the state of things is, and where we think we are.

► Click here to watch Commissioner Bettman's press conference.

But for one thing, we’d be done. There is a deal structure for Matt Hulsizer to buy the Coyotes from the league. There are arrangements in place approved by the city of Glendale that would enable the Coyotes to live happily ever after in Jobing.com Arena, and that would ensure that the arena doesn’t go dark, and it would protect the future for the people who have businesses and jobs at Westgate. In that regard, I want to thank city of Glendale, and commend the city of Glendale, starting with Mayor Scruggs and including the city council, the City Manager Ed Beasley, and the staff of the city of Glendale. I personally know how hard, and how committed, everyone has worked, and is, in pursuit of what they and I believe is a just, rational, sensible, and reasonable result.

I also want to thank Matt Hulsizer for taking on the task of an incredibly difficult and complex transaction. He has devoted himself and his resources to this endeavor.

I would be terribly remiss if I did not thank the Coyotes’ players, management, and staff for conducting themselves with the consummate professionalism during an extraordinarily difficult and uncertain time.

I finally want to thank the Coyotes’ fans for their tenaciousness and their support, and I know there are a lot more of them than this club gets credit for.

So, what is the one thing and what is the problem? And that is the bonds. They need to be sold, but at this point they have not been; and so the question is why haven’t they been sold, despite the fact that they have been given an A1 rating, which is a good and marketable rating? The only issue with and A1 rating should have been what the interest rate is, four-and-a-half, five, six percent, and that should have seen the bonds gobbled up. So, you have to ask yourself what is the problem?

Photo by Getty Images.
In short, the Goldwater Institute has placed a cloud on the bonds. They have threatened to challenge the legality of the Hulsizer-Glendale transactions and the bonds themselves, and based on what we have been told by the bond underwriters, the market for these bonds, solely because of the Goldwater threat, has been impacted. Now, I’m not intimately familiar with the Goldwater Institute, but it has become extremely clear to me that the Goldwater Institute can be very obstructionist. In light of their conduct in this matter, I question whether this is really an organization that is concerned with the public interest, despite a mission statement that calls for expanding free enterprise and support for the public interest. I quite frankly don’t know who the people there report to, or are accountable to, but it fascinates me that whoever is running the Goldwater Institute can actually substitute their judgment for that of the Glendale city council, by in effect, overturning a duly-enacted resolution of the city, and one that was enacted in public session. The Glendale city council decided to save Jobing.com Arena, to save Westgate, to save businesses and jobs, and perhaps even save the city, by entering into a transaction that keeps this building alive. The city is on the hook one way or the other, so it was not irrational for the council to make this determination.

Goldwater, obviously, has another view, and whether you think it’s motivated because they think they’ve been insulted by the city (their latest media release this weekend alluded to that again), or whether they just think they know better. But that isn’t really the issue. Without actually filing a lawsuit, Goldwater is managing to have its way simply by threatening. I’m not sure they even think they have a good lawsuit. We are told that two independent law firms looked at this and said the transaction is legal under Arizona law. Interestingly, again, I find it curious as to how the Goldwater Institute does business.

Photo by Associated Press.
I requested a meeting with Darcy Olsen [President and CEO of the Goldwater Institute] and was told no, but I could have a joint news conference. This situation is far too serious for such game play. Again, I hope that those to whom those at the Goldwater Institute are accountable are paying attention. Nevertheless, my hope is that somehow Goldwater and Glendale can find a way to get this done, promptly. So, where does this leave us? We’re not yet done, we’re haven’t given up, and we’re not giving up. For anyone suggesting that we’re not still committed to Glendale, you have not been following what we have done for the past two years, and our commitment remains as strong as ever. But, time is running out, and we are getting close to the end. I will not today say when the end is, and I will not today set a deadline, but at some point we may have no choice but to begin pursuing our other alternatives.

Simply stated, this situation must be resolved.”
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