As NHL playoffs continue, Glendale worries about Coyotes' future

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- As the playoffs continue, the Phoenix Coyotes are winning on the ice, but still losing money.

When the NHL bought the bankrupt team in 2009, the City of Glendale agreed to cover the operating losses of the Coyotes until a new buyer was found. City officials never expected the process to drag on for years.

Several deals have fallen through, as the city and league officials work to find an investor with enough money, who also wants to keep the team playing at Glendale's Arena.

City officials say several potential buyers are interested, but another deadline is looming.

Glendale had to pay the NHL $25 million to cover the team's expenses last season.

As the 2011-2012 season draws to a close, another large payout is due, but Councilman Phil Lieberman says he doesn't know where the city will come up with all the money needed.

"We're broke. We're out of money," Lieberman said, "I appreciate the fans' loyal support of the team, but I have city bills to pay, payroll to meet, services to deliver."

While many at Glendale City Hall are holding out hope that a buyer will rescue the team and keep it in town, Lieberman has given up.

"I'd like [the Coyotes] to leave, yes," he said, adding he fears more positions and services would have to be cut if the city keeps getting hit with bills to cover the team's losses.

Fans are not ready to let go, and are showing up in huge crowds as the season draws to a close.

"We are developing a real following and under great ownership we'll succeed without a doubt," said Rick Talazus, a longtime fan.

"It'd be nice to keep them here and keep the momentum going," added Deanna Bermea.

Another fan, Michael Cerpok, wondered what would become of the still-unpaid-for Jobing Arena.

"What are you going to do with this place? All of Westgate is dependant on having something in this stadium."

Councilman Lieberman says if the Coyotes left, he would like to see the arena go under private manangement, who would bring in events and shows.

"How about an RV show, an ATV show, a gun show, more concerts, all sorts of things," he said.City officials will only say negotiations with potential buyers are ongoing.