Who Designed The Coyotes Mess?

November 22, 2012 – Thanksgiving


Why Is This A Mess?

There are many weird questions that haven’t been answered and many more that haven’t even been yet asked about the Coyotes in Glendale. While the drama goes back well past the bankruptcy declaration from Jerry Moyes, around that time is when things that look and smell funny begin to really gather speed. We’ll go over some of them here, but it’s important to note that the story begins to get cleaned up and come above board when Greg Jamison gets involved. The arena lease deal, as it sits today, offers a workable long term solution for the City of Glendale, the NHL and the Coyotes. Even Mr. Skeete, the architect of the current agreement that says he cannot now support it, admits that the long term outlook for Glendale WITH the Coyotes is significantly brighter than it is without.

Interested parties or reporters examining the Coyotes saga might look around to see if there were sea changes in the slant of the story when two things happen; Ed Beasley announces his retirement at the end of the business day Friday, December 2, 2011 and Elaine Scruggs announces she will not run for any office on the office of mayor again on March 27, 2012, Beasley was with the city for 17 years, Scruggs the mayor since 1993. The mayor and the city manager worked together for 17 years during which time Glendale grew exponentially and a push was made for the city to become a sports and entertainment mecca. To assume that these two people running the city were not in constant communication about nearly everything related to any “big deal” would be ludicrous. Yet, that is exactly what we are now being asked to believe. Oddly, there has recently been another retirement, by Phil Lieberman, that was very oddly timed given the importance of matters coming before the city council before the end of 2012.

Better Now Than It Was

There have been allegations of oddities surround the Coyotes and their tenure in Glendale for years. While there have been a significant number of legal questions and even indictments in Glendale over the past 20 years, some including sports events and facilities, as of yet there have been no serious legal allegations made against anybody involved with the Coyotes fiasco. There will be NO allegations made in this post either, but we will offer some facts and some statements made by other people. You may decide for yourselves what the truth is or if further investigation should be made by a real journalist. Some of these “facts” are completely unsubstantiated and have been supplied by essentially anonymous sources, yet the “facts” were supplied to the city government some months ago and remain only alluded to in vague statements.

Ed Beasley

Today is Thanksgiving and an important family day, so I won’t take the time to open many doors in this post. Before we’re done with these posts, and I don’t know how many there will be, it should be clear to everybody that the Jerry Reinsdorf and Ed Beasley connection was probably responsible for MUCH of the failure of the city to get a deal done with the Coyotes. It’s even entirely possible that the team will leave specifically because of the delays and machinations resulting from that connection. Also, it’s HIGHLY unlikely that the lame duck mayor had no knowledge of “the numbers” or the deals being proposed even with Mr. Beasley’s skill at keeping expenditures at a level where council approval (and scrutiny) wasn’t necessary. All of this is pure speculation on my part, of course, and the word “alleged” should be assumed with any of these posts.

I suppose that, along with many people, my interest in the past of the Coyotes will ebb and flow depending on the FUTURE of the Coyotes in Glendale.

Ricky Gill Emails Glendale

I’ll refer to these along the way. There were a couple emails sent to the mayor and all of the Glendale city council members on September 20, 2012 by “Ricky Gill”. The email address was redacted from the copies of the emails I obtained (eventually I’ll put them out for review, probably), but we can assume that the email address was active at least long enough to receive a reply to the original email and then send a reply back to Glendale. Interestingly, the distribution list for the emails was split, the mayor and all council members received one copy, Joyce Clark received a different one. I can’t even speculate why this happened other than Joyce Clark was the most vociferous supporter of Glendale’s arena lease agreement with Hockey Partners (the Jamison group). If the entire email header was available, it could be possible to determine the identity of the person sending the email, until that identity was made clear we have to dismiss the information as conjecture from an anonymous source.

The allegations made by Gill are interesting if not entirely plausible. Please treat it, for now, as a work of fiction by author “anonymous”. It’s reasonable to suspect that there may be some tidbits of information that could be followed up on by a professional journalist interested in the story. Until one appears, you faithful readers will have to bear with me and accept the fact I don’t have the time or inclination to root through the bankruptcy documents, etc. At least not at this time.

Brahm Resnik was doing some real work on this story around the bankruptcy time. It was all, of course, negative to the entire Coyotes story NOT just the machinations behind the scenes, but it was journalism. Lots of people shot the messenger. I submit that his info was solid, even if I disagree with the slant he put on things.

Coyotes – 2008

The condition of the Coyotes franchise in Glendale after an already troubled existence became more public in the Fall of 2008. The Gill email suggests:

By Fall 2008, it was clear to league and team officials that the Coyotes were not viable in Glendale. They could not attract interest in purchasing the team until the AMULA with Glendale was terminated. Here’s a quick timeline of how it unfolded:

September 2008: NHL General Counsel and then-CEO, Chairman, and Governor of Coyotes Hockey, Jeff Shumway meet and confer with regards to the Coyotes financial situation. The NHL and Shumway agree that Moyes should meet with Glendale and advise Beasley that if Glendale doesn’t provide a subsidy to the team, Moyes will put the team into bankruptcy.
(This can be found in the bankruptcy documents. $7.5M would go to covering the Coyotes losses running the arena, $500k from eliminated rent, $2.5M by eliminating the parking fees, a new parking garage and another $2M for an arena management fee.)

October 14, 2008: Meeting in Glendale. The league (Zimmerman) and team present their subsidy demand to the city. The league and team advise the city that if the subsidy is not granted, Moyes will put the team into Chapter 11 and void the AMULA.

November 3, 2008: Meeting at NHL offices in New York. As a follow up to the October meeting, the parties meet again. This time, it is Bettman that tells Beasley that without a subsidy (in Gary speak: “enhanced partnership with the city”) the team will be put into bankruptcy, the lease will be voided, and the team will move. Beasley believes that he can provide concessions ranging from $12-$15MM per year.

November 11-21, 2008: Bettman advises that he can extract even more concessions from Beasley. Moyes and the NHL enter into a proxy agreement. The NHL assumes control of all negotiations with Glendale.

December 2008 – April, 2009: Bettman was able to get Beasley to agree to $20MM per year in subsidies that he could provide without council approval. However, Beasley would not make the deal if Moyes were the owner. Beasley would only funnel the money to the team if Kaites/Reinsdorf owned the team.

Is ANY Of That True?

The above are some bold statements pointed in the direction of collusion between Ed Beasley, the Kaites/Reinsdorf crew and the NHL. Gill indicates that Beasley purposely advocated dollar amounts that he, as city manager, could spend at his discretion without the approval of the city council. That fact supports the allegations of mayor Scruggs that she had no knowledge of the deals going on under her nose.

To decide the credibility of the fiction above, we will, in our next installment, take a look at what else was going on in the city with the Coyotes and all the people mentioned above. Are there connections, for example, between Ed Beasley and Reinsdorf as the writer of the email suggests? Since it sounds, if any of the above is true, Jerry Moyes quickly went from being an insider to an outsider holding the bag for a lot of expenses, is it logical to assume that he and any organization he was connected with would have an ax to grind with the NHL and the Coyotes? Would there be incentive to mount a campaign to be sure the Coyotes NEVER had success in Glendale?

Good questions, I think. There are some facts to support the arguments I’ve been making for what seems like years. Some of this SHOULD be important when deciding who is making statements that can be believed verbatim, and who is saying things that are either only partially true or outright lies during the next five days of debates and statements.

Stay tuned.