Blogs & Comment

Be careful what you wish for, Mr. Balsillie

Jim Balsillie wanted to move up the auction date for the Phoenix Coyotes, but hes probably not too happy after the bankruptcy court did just that and essentially excluded the RIM exec from bidding in the first round.
Judge Redfield T. Baum yesterday changed the auction date for the financially troubled franchise to Aug. 5 from Sept. 10, but will only accept bids willing to keep the team in Glendale, Ariz. If a suitable buyer cannot be found, a second auction will take place on Sept. 10 for anyone who wants to move the team.
At least one initial bid is expected from a group led by Jerry Reinsdorf, who also owns baseballs Chicago White Sox and basketballs Chicago Bulls. Reinsdorf has reportedly registered a company called Glendale Hockey LLC with the purpose of buying the Coyotes and keeping them in Arizona. Details of that bid might be revealed this Friday, but its expected to be substantially less than Balsillies US$212.5-million offer, which is contingent on moving the team to Hamilton. (UPDATE: Reinsdorf submitted a US$148-million offer that would pay secured creditors, but apparently not Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes, and requires a new lease to be signed for arena.)
A deal that satisfies only half of the teams creditors, who are owed about US$300 million would be tough to accept, said Baum. This is a troubled franchise and this court has an obligation to try to get the best outcome possible.
Balsillies camp is betting Baum wont accept a deal that is far worse than his offersomething the Nashville Predators did in 2007 by rejecting Balsillies takeover attempt. The judge also said the NHL must decide by Sept. 2 whether to accept Balsillie and Hamilton. Im going to expect the league to make a decision or give an awful good reason why they haven’t been able to, said Baum.
League officials arent exactly keen on Balsillie as an owner, even though he was previously approved when he tried to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2006a deal he backed out on. I think the Board has legitimate questions as to his suitability as an owner, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told reporters.
The league is also suggesting Balsillies attempts to move the Coyotes are hurting the team. A team’s lifeblood is derived from advance ticket sales, advertising revenue, corporate sponsorships and television revenue, all of which are adversely affected if there is uncertainty as to whether a team will continue to play in its current venue,” states the leagues filing with Baum.
Of course, very few people and potential sponsors were paying attention before Balsillie stepped into this messa fact the NHL conveniently ignores.
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