Phoenix Coyotes deal with Glendale debated in court

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The battle over the Phoenix Coyotes moved from the ice to the courthouse today as attorneys argued over whether the city of Glendale illegally approved a new lease for the team.

The Goldwater Institute is seeking a preliminary injunction on the deal that could keep the Coyotes in Glendale for the next 20 years and the judge has already issued a partial ruling.
“The judge already decided voters can refer the ordinance to the ballot,” said Goldwater attorney Carrie Ann Sitren.

The Goldwater Institute is already claiming a partial victory. The judge requested part of the language in Glendale's lease agreement with Greg Jamison, the likely Phoenix Coyotes buyer, be changed.

As a result, Glendale resident Ken Jones, a plaintiff in the case, plans to start collecting signatures

“It will give residents of Glendale the chance to speak which they've never had that before,” said Jones.

But the Goldwater Institute also argues that the city should have put arena management out to competitive bid as opposed to agreeing to pay the Jamison Group $324 million over 20 years to operate the city owned Arena, and thus is asking for a preliminary injunction.

“A bidder can't unilaterally negate competitive bidding,” said Sitren. “Competitive bidding is meant to prevent favoritism and protect taxpayers.”

But the city says competitive bids were not required because this is a unique professional service.

"Jamison is willing to contract to play in the arena and do so for 20 years without relocation if and only if he receives the management contract for arena in which the team is going to play,” said attorney Gary Brinbaum, representing the City of Glendale.

The judge says there are others who could buy the team and others who could manage the arena but the city disagrees.

“For the last three years the city, the NHL and bankruptcy court has looked for such a person there is no such person,” said Brinbaum.

No word on when the judge will rule on this case but the city of Glendale is hoping the ruling is in their favor and that is comes sooner than later.

The NHL wants this deal done by the end of the month and city officials do not want to risk losing the Coyotes.