Coyotes' ownership change could clear way to Phoenix arena

Andrew Barroway buys out team's minority owners to become the sole owner of the Arizona Coyotes.

Arizona Coyotes majority owner Andrew Barroway is now the hockey team's sole owner, possibly setting the stage for a move to a downtown Phoenix arena.

NHL sources confirmed to 12 News Monday that Barroway, a Philadelphia hedge fund manager who purchased a controlling stake in the team three years ago, bought out the team's chief executive officer, Anthony LeBlanc, and chief operating officer, Gary Drummond.

The team is now looking for a new CEO.

John Shannon, a hockey reporter with Canada's SportsNet who's been covering the deal, tweeted Monday that a multipurpose basketball/hockey/entertainment arena for the Coyotes and Phoenix Suns could be back in play, with help from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

The sports and entertainment market in the Phoenix area couldn't support a third arena, assuming the Coyotes abandoned their Glendale home and built an arena on their own.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton called last year for a joint Suns-Coyotes arena downtown. But a shared arena is complicated by money, politics and personalities. Here's the breakdown:

Money

A new arena could cost $400 million to $500 million. The teams would undoubtedly call on taxpayers to help foot the bill. (Unless Barroway has lined up new investors with deep pockets to write a check for the arena.) The City of Phoenix has a tax that could cover some of the cost, but taxpayers would have to approve its use for a new arena.

Politics

Can you name one elected official, in Phoenix or elsewhere, who would lead the campaign for an arena tax? Stanton could be running for higher office by next May. Would a successor pick up where Stanton left off? 

Personalities

Phoenix insiders say Suns owner Robert Sarver wants nothing to do with the Coyotes. LeBlanc's departure might change that. The team's been mum on a multipurpose arena. Then again, the Suns are in no hurry. 

The Suns could get out of their lease at the Phoenix-owned Talking Stick Resort Arena in 2022.

Meantime, the Phoenix City Council is exploring the cost of renovating Talking Stick as a basketball-only or hockey and basketball facility.

The Coyotes want out of their Glendale arena ASAP.

Bettman, who has toiled for a decade to keep the money-losing Coyotes in the desert, made that clear in a letter to Arizona state legislators last winter.

As lawmakers were weighing tax breaks to help pay for a new hockey arena on the Arizona State University campus in Tempe, Bettman issued a veiled threat in a letter:

"The simple truth: The Arizona Coyotes must have a new arena location to succeed. The Coyotes cannot and will not remain in Glendale."

LeBlanc's days with the team appeared to be numbered after the tax plan collapsed.

LeBlanc was part of an ownership group that acquired the Coyotes from the NHL after the team's 2009 bankruptcy. While he was forever telling fans a new arena was around the corner, LeBlanc's legacy will be that he kept the team here.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, who's worked alongside Bettman to keep the team in Arizona, said in a prepared statement Monday:

"The reorganization is an effort to consolidate and strengthen the ownership and to resolve various disputes among the existing owners. We believe this will better position the Club to achieve a long-term solution in the Valley."

"Barroway is 100 percent committed to finding a long-term home for the Coyotes in the Valley," an NHL source said.

Meantime, the Coyotes are playing on year-to-year leases at their Glendale arena.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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