Phoenix Coyotes Auction to Favor Local Bidders


By Dan Canavan

The NHL franchise currently known as the Phoenix Coyotes will be put up for auction by the Bankruptcy Court.  On Monday, Judge Redfield T. Baum ruled that the team would be auctioned, and set a two-tiered schedule for the sale of the Club, designed to favor a local ownership group willing to keep the team in Phoenix.  The auction will proceed as follows:

  1. Local bidders, who would agree to keep the team in Phoenix, will have an opportunity to submit offers by August 5th.  For now Jim Balsillie will remain on the bench.  He has demonstrated no interest in keeping the team in Phoenix, and accordingly has been effectively barred from participating in the first segment of the auction. 
  2. Should the auction fail to attract an acceptable offer from a local ownership group, other potential suitors will be allowed to place bids on the team prior by September 10th.   The intent of the second auction would be to find an ownership group to relocate the team for the 2010-11 season.

The two-tiered approach allows the NHL to scour the earth for a local ownership group before reaching the messy issue of relocation.  After the hearing, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly reemphasized the NHL’s desire to keep the Coyotes in the desert:

We’re pleased that the judge adopted the two-tiered approach to the auction, and we’re confident – we’ve said all along we’re confident – there’s a viable offer that will make this team viable in Glendale, and now we’ll let that process play out.

In briefs filed with the court on Monday, the NHL promised to report to the Bankruptcy Court “whether or not there is a local buyer for the Coyotes” and if not, “the NHL can undertake an orderly sale of the club to a bidder that would relocate the club for the 2010-11 season.” Multiple media outlets are reporting that the NHL will announce that Jerry Reinsdorf’s group will place an offer before the Court by Friday to keep the Coyotes in Phoenix.  Reinsdorf currently owns MLB’s Chicago White Sox as well as the NBA’s Chicago Bulls.  Attorney Anthony Clark, representing the NHL in these proceedings, reported that “a term sheet with details of Reinsdorf’s offer, which would keep the team in Glendale, should be available by the end of the week.”

dan_canavan1Dan Canavan, Connecticut Sports Law’s resident hockey expert, is an attorney at Updike, Kelly & Spellacy in Hartford, Connecticut.  He has appeared as an on-air guest with regard to the NHL and the Phoenix Coyotes bankruptcy proceedings on CBC Radio’s World Report.  His analysis and commentary have also been published in the Sports Litigation Alert Newsletter, which is circulated throughout the United States.  Dan can be contacted at or 860-548-2672


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