Report: Sale announcement expected

Updated: May 7, 2012, 5:08 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

PHOENIX -- A tentative deal by the NHL to sell the Phoenix Coyotes to former San Jose Sharks CEO Greg Jamison is expected to be announced before Monday night's playoff game against the Nashville Predators, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press.

The person spoke to The AP on the condition of anonymity because there has been no official scheduling of such an announcement.

The league announced Monday that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman would be available to the media at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale at 6 p.m. PT. The NHL's statement did not specify the nature of the media session.

Jamison still must complete negotiations on a lease with the city of Glendale. That has long been the nagging issue in the league's attempts to sell the team, which the NHL purchased out of bankruptcy. The sale also would have to be approved by the league's board of governors.

The anticipated announcement of the tentative agreement first was reported by the Phoenix Business Journal.

Monday night would provide a dramatic backdrop to such an announcement, with a packed house on hand to watch the upstart Coyotes try to close out their Western Conference semifinal series with the Predators. Phoenix leads the series 3-1.

Behind general manager Don Maloney and coach Dave Tippett, the team has managed to make the playoffs each of the three seasons it has been owned by the NHL. But this season marked the first time the franchise advanced past the first round of the playoffs since 1987, nine years before it moved from Winnipeg to Arizona.

Jamison has been in talks for some time on a new lease for the use of Jobing.com Arena. But the terms of that lease could still run afoul of a conservative watchdog group, the Goldwater Institute, that stymied a previous attempt to sell the franchise a year ago.

The city would pay an annual fee to the Coyotes for operation of the arena, a figure that the Goldwater group could see as a thinly disguised subsidy and a violation of the Arizona Constitution. "We are looking forward to reviewing the details of the deal when they are made public," the Goldwater Institute said. "We hope the new deal complies with the law and protects taxpayers by requiring the private parties involved to bear any related costs." Any new lease would have to go before the Glendale City Council. Several reports have four members of the council agreeing to the general framework of a deal with Jamison.

The Coyotes have not made money since they moved to Arizona.

Then-owner Jerry Moyes took the team into bankruptcy three years ago with the intention of selling it to Canadian businessman Jim Balsillie, who wanted to move the franchise to Hamilton, Ontario. The league vehemently opposed the plan and, after two prospective buyers pulled out, the NHL was the lone bidder to purchase the team out of bankruptcy.

The league has long said it wanted to find a buyer to keep the team in Glendale and the city committed $25 million each of the past two seasons to help cover operating losses. If recent attempts to find a buyer were to fall through, the NHL would be clear to finally determine whether to move the franchise elsewhere.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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