NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said it was good to see one obstacle to the sale of the Phoenix Coyotes removed but could not say if it means Greg Jamison will complete the purchase soon.
Earlier this week, the two Glendale taxpayers whose petition seeking to put the arena lease granted to Jamison by the suburban city to a public vote in November was rejected by Glendale officials said they will not challenge the rejection in court. The petition was rejected because it missed a deadline of July 9 imposed by the city and it was about 300 signatures short of the required amount.
That's ultimately up to Greg Jamison," Bettman said Wednesday when asked if the sale will proceed quickly. "But having the landscape cleared off a little bit should make it easier for him to do this if he's going to be able to get it done.
"Obviously there is a lot less uncertainty than there was prior to this happening."
Jamison, the former president of the San Jose Sharks, has been silent in the last couple of months about his attempts to buy the Coyotes from the NHL for $170-million (all currency U.S.).
The silence led to Coyotes captain Shane Doan, the only player on the team who was with it when the franchise moved to Arizona from Winnipeg in 1995, becoming a free agent. Doan is hoping to hear from Jamison before the end of the week in order to decide if a sale is likely or if he should look at the multiple offers he has received from several other NHL teams.
Ken Jones, one of the Glendale residents who put together the petition on the arena lease, said he does not have the money for a legal challenge. He said the Goldwater Institute, the conservative public watchdog group that initially helped him and Joe Cobb start the petition, declined to handle a court challenge.
"That left me and the other plaintiff with no choice," Jones said. "I admired Goldwater for years. I didn't think I needed to ask them to go the whole route. I figured they would stay until it was finished.
"I just have no use for Goldwater at all now."
A request for comment from Goldwater was not answered but Goldwater lawyer Clint Bolick told the Arizona Republic the institute never promised Jones and Cobb it would handle the legal work. Goldwater may still pursue a lawsuit over the lease on the grounds it violates Arizona laws against excessive public subsidies of private business but no decision has been made on that.
One obstacle, aside from Jamison's attempts to finance the purchase, remains on July 30. That is the date of a court hearing to decide if a petition calling to put a sales-tax increase for Glendale to a public vote is valid. Glendale officials have said if they cannot get the sales-tax increase they may not be able to pay the $17-million to the Coyotes called for in the first year of a $324-million, 20-year lease for Jobing.com Arena.
Bettman said only Jamison knows if the court decision will have an impact on his purchase "but based on the last conversation I had with him he is continuing to work on what he has to do."