This evening, the Phoenix Coyotes are slated to release word of a new plan to keep their team in the desert. Possibly extending the saga by yet another year, the city of Glendale'll be on the hook for $25 million in operating costs if they decide to foot the bill for the season. This will, presumably, give the city and the NHL time to find an owner willing to purchase the team with their own money - not $100 million in bonds issued by the city. Also, if the city council votes to approve the deal, it means that the city of Winnipeg has to wait a little while to get a hockey team back. If all goes well, the circle of Winnipeg to Phoenix to Winnipeg'll be broken.
Of course, if True North Entertainment isn't able to purchase the Coyotes, they have a cheaper, $110 million option, down here. Tack on a $60 million relocation fee, and it's still preferable to just splurge on the Thrashers. The problem here is whether or not the team's owners, the Atlanta Spirit, can find an owner who is willing to keep the team in Atlanta.
In his article in the AJC, Chris Vivlamore looks at this question and points out that regardless of if they sell to True North Sports & Entertainment or a buyer interested in keeping the Thrashers in Atlanta, the Atlanta Spirit'll make about $110 million on the sale. Someone more local can give the $110 million, while True North'd buy the team for $170, with $60 million going to cover the NHL's relocation fees. C-Viv's article also highlights two points that more investigative reporters, like The Examiner's Phil Foley, have been saying for a while: one, that Bettman and the NHL doesn't want to just drop everything and leave Atlanta and two, that there're pesky NHL by-laws to worry about. Vivlamore makes the argument, however subtly, that this might be much ado about nothing.
Foley, meanwhile, focuses more on the intrigue behind the scenes, and a question that fans and reporters should be asking - why is the Atlanta Spirit Group being so cagey about who's interested in the team? A common explanation would be market manipulation - intrigue, and a lack of forwardness, emphasizes the urgentness of the situation. Apparently the team's owners aren't old pros at high school economics, and that isn't a shock. The competition level - especially with the whole John Kincade "The Balkan" issue going around.
Kincade, for as blustery as he has been about the issue, is probably more than likely right. He's got legit sources near the team, and he also has his reputation to worry about. He's been too loud to be wrong. Chances are good that something - positive or negative - will happen shortly, but it'll have little to do with Phoenix. Whatever happens is on the Atlanta Spirit. It's important to be pragmatic either way - positive or negative - but to say that whatever happens in Glendale this evening will cement the future of our team here in Atlanta is a bit over-reactive.
About the only thing cemented here are the Spirits' status as the biggest pity-partier throwers in the city.