Vote on Coyotes deal nears; city hosts workshop meeting on details

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by Catherine Holland

Video report by Javier Soto

Posted on June 28, 2013 at 11:04 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 2 at 12:15 PM

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- As the vote of the future of the Phoenix Coyotes nears, the Glendale City Council is holding a meeting Friday afternoon to talk about the proposed management agreement for Jobing.com Arena.

"For the past four years, the city has been actively working with the NHL and potential buyers of the Coyotes to structure a deal that would keep the team in Glendale for the long term," reads the city's website.

The National Hockey League has run the team for those four seasons, but it's ready to sell the franchise to Renaissance Sports & Entertainment. The deal, however, depends on a lease agreement for the arena with the city.

A draft of the deal is posted on the city's website. (Scroll to the bottom of the front page.)

"We're trying to negotiate. We're trying to figure out a way to keep the hockey team here," Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers told 3TV's Javier Soto Friday morning. "But we have to do it responsibly. We have to do it in a way that protects out 236,000 citizens. … We can't just rush into a deal."

While the city is being pushed to make an agreement by next week -- a vote is scheduled for Tuesday -- several council members have expressed concerns. Among the potential problems are a $15 million management fee to run the arena, a five-year out clause that could allow RSE to move the team without penalty and concerns that the city would bear all the risk if revenue projected by RSE falls short.

"Contrary to what might appear in the papers, I don't see this as a `done deal.' Far from it," acting city manager Dick Bowers said in a letter sent to the city council on Tuesday. "Discussions continued over the week and we have come only slightly closer to comfortable than before."

Weiers told Soto in no uncertain words that he is not a fan of the deal as it is now, but he does want to find a way to keep a professional hockey team in Glendale.

"Do it where it does not hurt our city, that doesn't hurt our public safety, and doesn't force us to make cuts that are devastating to our city," he said.

Weiers, who has been in office for six months, inherited the ongoing battle.

"What I feel like is that we're being pushed -- unfairly -- into a rushed situation, being forced to try to make decisions that are harmful to our city," he said. "I'm just, quite honestly, not willing to do that."

Friday's meeting, scheduled for 1:30 p.m., is just a special workshop session, so no decisions will be made and no public commentary heard. A vote is slated for Tuesday.

"I was forced by three of our council members to hold a voting meeting on Tuesday, which I don't believe we're ready to do," Weiers said.

Tuesday's vote could mean that the Coyotes leave Glendale.

"If the council doesn't approve it so that this transaction can close, I don't think the Coyotes will be playing there anymore," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.

Weiers said he "is prepared to vote against this" if it costs the city money or adversely affects public safety.

"I don't want to lose the Coyotes, but the bottom line is we have to responsible to our citizens," he said. "We have to give the citizens an opportunity to see what's going on and understand all of the details -- not just one side."

The city broadcasts its public meetings live on Glendale 11 TV (Channel 11 on Cox in Glendale) and it can also be viewed live on the city website. The meeting will also be archived on the city's website and can be viewed later. Go to www.glendaleaz.com/glendale11 and visit the "quick links" on the left side of the page for either watching live or viewing the archives.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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