DALLAS — Glendale, Ariz., has committed another $25 million to keep the National Hockey League’s Phoenix Coyotes playing in city-owned Jobing.com arena for another year, though officials have not yet identified where the money will come from.
An agreement approved by the City Council Tuesday night brings the subsidy for the team to $50 million over two seasons, nearly a third of the cost of the Jobing.com Arena, which was built with $180 million of Glendale revenue bonds in 2003.
The NHL, which owns the Coyotes as a result of the team’s 2009 bankruptcy, has agreed to keep the team playing at the arena for another season while the city finds a way to complete its deal with proposed buyer Matthew Hulsizer, a Chicago investor, or looks for another buyer.
“This is an important step toward a final resolution and a transition to the permanent ownership the Coyotes need and deserve,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in a prepared statement.
“We set our sights now on finding a financing structure which will accelerate that transition. We are confident that, working with the city of Glendale, we will attain that objective.”
The NHL bought the team to keep it out of the hands of an owner who planned to move it to Hamilton, Canada. If the team doesn’t stay in Arizona, it is widely believed the Coyotes will move to Winnipeg, Canada, where the franchise was based before moving to Arizona in 1996.
The league expected to sell the team to Hulsizer under a deal in which the city would pay him $100 million. But that sale was stymied earlier this year when the conservative Goldwater Institute think tank threatened a lawsuit over Glendale’s proposed bond sale to finance Hulsizer’s purchase.
The planned bond deal also prompted a downgrade of Glendale’s general obligation debt from Moody’s Investors Service to Aa2 from Aa1, and a negative outlook on Standard & Poor’s AA-plus rating in February.
The first $25 million paid to the NHL earlier this year to subsidize last season’s losses came from a utility fund, according to city officials. Glendale has yet to identify where next year’s payment will be found.
The city is grappling with falling revenues due to the housing collapse and sales tax revenue declines, though the Arizona economy is showing signs of recovery.
Glendale officials fear that losing the Coyotes’ 41 home games per season would mean the loss of sales tax revenue from merchants and restaurants operating at Westgate City Center, the entertainment district that adjoins the hockey arena.