DALLAS - The Phoenix Coyotes will play another year at Glendale, Ariz.'s $180 million bond-financed Jobing.com arena under a ruling by U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Redfield T. Baum.
The ruling Monday halts plans to move the bankrupt National Hockey League team to the Toronto suburb of Hamilton, Ontario.
Coyotes majority owner Jerry Moyes arranged to sell the team for $212.5 million to Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie before filing for bankruptcy. Balsillie agreed to buy the team with the provision that he could move it from Glendale, where it has lost millions of dollars. Since moving to the Phoenix area in 1996, the Coyotes have never made a profit.
But Baum ruled that Balsillie's demand that a decision on his offer and his plans to move the team be made by June 29 was impractical because of the complexity of the issues in the bankruptcy.
Stakeholders besides Glendale include the National Hockey League, which claims authority over who can buy and relocate a team. Other professional sports leagues filed friend-of-the-court briefs in the case, fearing a ruling in favor of the sale might undermine their authority as well.
Baum's decision on the timing precluded a ruling on Glendale's claim that a move would severely damage the city, which earns revenue from the lease of the six-year-old arena and sales tax revenue from a related commercial development known as Westgate City Center.
The revenue bonds that financed the arena are backed by a portion of the city sales tax and are not at risk if the team should leave the arena largely vacant, officials said. However, the loss of the revenue would further strain the city as it struggles through a deep recession.
"Clearly, the court recognized the significance of these issues and the unique interests of the city of Glendale and its taxpayers," officials said in a prepared statement. "The court based its decision on the law and facts and not on countless rumors and innuendo regarding this matter. The city has always fulfilled its obligations and will continue to do so within the law and consistent with strong public policy."