Mayor irked by slow-moving sale of Coyotes

Glendale (Ariz.) mayor Elaine Scruggs says the taxpayers' watchdog organization Goldwater Institute in Phoenix is "significantly hindering" the sale of the NHL's Coyotes to Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer.

Scruggs urges taxpayers' watchdog group Goldwater Institute to back away

Tired of hearing about the impending sale of the Phoenix Coyotes? Apparently, Glendale (Ariz.) mayor Elaine Scruggs has reached her boiling point.

She called a news conference at arena — home of the financially troubled National Hockey League team — saying the taxpayers' watchdog organization Goldwater Institute in Phoenix is "significantly hindering" the sale of the club to Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer.

Under the lease Glendale City Council approved for the Coyotes in December, the city is to give Hulsizer $100 million for parking rights and another $97 million as a fee for operating the arena.

While Hulsizer said over the weekend he expects the deal to close soon, the sale is being held up by the bond sale, which is being used to finance about $100 million of the package.

Goldwater Institute has questioned the agreement as overgenerous and the fees far beyond market value.

Scruggs and other city officials said Goldwater has refused to meet in an attempt to work out a compromise to allow the city to move forward.

Goldwater officials say they are not stalling the process intentionally, that they are simply concerned about the taxpayers and poring over a 400-page document to determine the legality of the agreement.

Glendale has maintained it's on solid legal ground.

The Coyotes haven't made a profit since moving from Winnipeg in 1996 and is expected to lose at least $25 million this season.

"It will take some time to turn this around. It will not happen in the short term," the 40-year-old Hulsizer, who co-owns an investment firm with his wife, said in December. "We're looking 10, 15 years possibly, I don't know.

"We hope the economy will start to turn around, and the Coyotes can win."

The NHL purchased the franchise out of U.S. Bankruptcy Court a year ago with the intent of selling it to someone who would keep the team in Arizona.

Should the Hulsizer deal fall apart, the league would probably look to relocate the Coyotes.

That will have fans in Quebec City and Winnipeg perking their ears after they said goodbye to the Nordiques and Jets in 1995 and '96, respectively.

With files from The Canadian Press