Coyotes Judge: September Auction Open to All Bidders

This is not good for Glendale.

Two days after he pushed back the date of the auction of the Phoenix Coyotes hockey team, U.S. District Court Judge Redfield T. Baum ordered that the rescheduled auction will open to all bidders -- not just those who plan on keeping the team (however temporarily) in Glendale.

That means Canadian Jim Balsillie, who wants to relocate the team to Ontario, will be able to participate in the auction.

And that could well mean Glendale loses its NHL team.

As Judge Baum notes in his two-page order, it was Glendale and the NHL who originally asked for more time. The team's creditors argued against the delay -- and also argued in favor of allowing Balsillie to come to the table.

"The essence of their opposition is that any bidder should be allowed to present their offer to the court and to the parties," Baum wrote. "Both sides make legitimate and compelling points to support their respective positions" -- but ultimately, ruled that the auction that should be open to "any and all bidders, including but not limited to" Balsillie's company.

Balsillie is offering much more money for the team -- but the NHL wants to keep the team in Phoenix.

So does Glendale, which has already invested some $180 million in its hockey arena. But keeping the team could be costly: The main bidder promising to keep the team in town, for now, is Jerry Reinsdorf. Documents "accidentally" filed by the Coyotes' current owner on Friday revealed that Reinsdorf was asking for incentives to the tune of $23 million a year to keep the team here -- and possibly another $15 million on top of that annually should the team continue to lose money.

Our column in this week's issue, "The Kaites Connection," details some of the peculiar backstory on the Reinsdorf bid, including the fact that Glendale City Manager Ed Beasley has ties to Reinsdorf's partner in the hockey venture.

The new hearing is set for September 10. There will be a hearing before that next Tuesday to hash out some of the issues in play.

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Sarah Fenske
Contact: Sarah Fenske