Glendale City Council votes to end lease agreement with Coyotes

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The dance between the Arizona Coyotes and Glendale City Council has ended.

A city council meeting to discuss the hockey franchise's future in Glendale - and the potential cancellation of the city's lease agreement with the Coyotes - took place Wednesday evening, and a decision was made to end the agreement.

Coyotes co-owner, president, and CEO Anthony LeBlanc issued the following statement:

We are disappointed with the city's decision to violate its obligations under the agreement that was entered into and duly approved only two years ago. We will exhaust any and all legal remedies against the city of Glendale for this blatant violation of its contractual obligations to us.

Garrett Mitchell of AZCentral, Craig Morgan of Fox Sports Arizona, and Peter Corbett of the Arizona Republic had several details from the meeting including the following:

  • The meeting began with a motion from councilman Jamie Aldama to table the decision for two weeks, which was denied.
  • Lawyer Nick Woods, who represented the Coyotes said he was "perplexed, surprised, and disturbed by why the city would do this" (referring to the potential cancellation of the lease), and followed that by saying, "if you decide to go forward tonight, you will lose and it will cost the taxpayers," according to Mitchell.
  • Woods continued by saying if the city dropped the deal, no major company would do business with Glendale ever again and followed it by bluntly addressing council. "This will be the biggest mistake you will ever make as council. There is no turning back."
  • Morgan reported Woods also said the council needs to "step away from the cliff tonight and not take the action," and "if they act on this tonight, tomorrow the litigators go to work."
  • LeBlanc spoke his mind and said the city of Glendale was committing "political grandstanding," while also stating the city killed any chance of the Coyotes ever hosting the World Junior Championship.
  • The biggest and most shocking news from the meeting came courtesy of Woods who said the team would file a $200-million lawsuit if Glendale decided to end the deal, reported Corbett.
  • After people from the community had their say, councilperson Sam Chavira spoke and addressed the financial losses the city's businesses would suffer and that he would stick by the agreement and claimed that the situation was "bigger than us," reported Morgan.
  • Council member Gary Sherwood was outraged by the entire situation. "This is an embarrassment to the city," he claimed. "I'm disappointed."

Prior to Wednesday's meeting, the city released a statement suggesting a middle ground could be reached.

From Rick Westhead of TSN:

Discussions and negotiations regarding the contract have been ongoing for months. Specifically, the city is open to a resolution but it must be one that provides certainty and fairness to both parties, especially the taxpayers. The Council has agreed to stand for transparency and the highest standards of ethics for any future agreement with the Coyotes.

Under the agreement, the city paid $15 million per year to its financially-troubled tenant.

Coyotes majority owner Andrew Barroway, co-owner LeBlanc, Glendale mayor Jerry Weiers, and vice mayor Ian Hugh talked Monday in what amounted to a rather unproductive, bare-bones meeting.

"I think water was available," Hugh said. "We asked if they would consider renegotiating the arena management contract. They said no. There wasn’t a lot to say after that."

Earlier Wednesday, the NHL released a statement saying it believed the Coyotes would indeed continue to play at Gila River Arena and asked for the city to honor the current agreement.

For their part, the Coyotes were intent on holding the city to it.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman briefly discussed the meeting with "Hockey Night in Canada" reporter Scott Oake during the second intermission of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday.

Bettman said he "wasn't concerned about the Coyotes" and what Glendale was doing was "inappropriate," stating that they were going to "have problems" if they continued to conduct business in this fashion.

Glendale City Council votes to end lease agreement with Coyotes
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