x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Reinsdorf in pole position to bid for Coyotes

The owner of the Chicago Bulls and the White Sox has promised to make an offer by Friday to buy the bankrupt NHL franchise and keep the team based in Arizona.

Jerry Reinsdorf, the owner of NBA's Chicago Bulls and the city's Major League Baseball team the White Sox, has promised to make an offer by Friday to buy the bankrupt Phoenix Coyotes and keep the team based in Arizona. Reinsdorf's attorney Alan Klein said his client was in talks with the city of Glendale on a new lease agreement that would be part of the proposal. Klein made the comment from Chicago via a conference call to a Bankruptcy Court in Phoenix, where Judge Redfield T Baum adopted a sale schedule that gives the NHL the first shot at finding a buyer who will keep the team in Arizona.

The judge set Friday as a deadline for potential buyers who would keep the team in Arizona to submit purchase applications to the NHL. If a suitable buyer for Arizona is not found by the Aug 5 sale date, Baum established a back-up schedule for anyone who would want to move the team. That would allow Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie to renew his US$212.5million (Dh779m) bid to buy the franchise and move it to Hamilton, Ontario.

Baum turned down an attempt by Balsillie and the Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes to have the Canadian bid considered at the same time as any offers to keep the team in Arizona are judged. The NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the judge's decision to open bidding for a local owner first "gives the Coyotes a real shot to remain in the Phoenix-Glendale area". However, Balsillie's representative Richard Rodier refused to consider Baum's decision a setback, saying it doesn't matter that the team will be offered to local ownership first.

"It's the way it should be anyway," Rodier said. "A city shouldn't lose its franchise unless there's a good reason, so let them take a shot. If Mr Reinsdorf has an offer that makes sense to the city of Glendale and makes it work long-term, tremendous. More power to them." Glendale city attorney Craig Tindall said the city has had "some very positive preliminary discussions" with Reinsdorf. "We think we can handle the situation without making massive monetary concessions," he said.

* AP