PHOENIX — For Arizona citizens and fans of the Arizona Coyotes everywhere, this past week has brought much confusion and heartache.
After the city of Glendale decided to cancel its lease with the Arizona Coyotes, fans and officials alike have discussed the team’s possibilities in the near future.
The team has not given up just yet: Officials with the Coyotes filed a restraining order against the city on June 12, formally beginning legal proceedings.
Catch up with this ensuing legal battle below.
Glendale cancels lease agreement with Arizona Coyotes
The city of Glendale, Arizona decided to cancel its 15-year, $225 million lease agreement with the Coyotes after just two years.
The motion passed with a 5-2 vote in a special voting session on June 10, after many officials and fans alike tried to discourage the council from doing so.
Glendale claims Coyotes broke lease with several city employees
The city claimed the team broke the terms of their lease when it hired former Glendale City Council attorney Craig Tindall, who stepped down from his position with the city to join the Coyotes’ general council that same year.
The city also named former Glendale Assistant City Manager Julie Frisoni as another individual who created a conflict of interest to enable the City Council to terminate its lease agreement with the team.
Frisoni said she left the city in April to launch her own public relations firm, Frisoni PR, and began helping the Coyotes prepare a bid to host the 2018 World Junior Hockey Championship in May.
After last week’s events, Coyotes officials have said they will not be bidding to host because they feel the committee would not give their bid serious consideration.
Coyotes fans, officials react to lease agreement cancellation
Since the announcement of Glendale’s decision to cancel its lease with the Arizona Coyotes, many officials on both sides of the issue have voiced their opinion.
• Arizona Coyotes Co-owner Anthony LeBlanc: “This is cheap, political gamesmanship. It was a threat to try to get us to renegotiate an agreement that is less than two years old.”
• Glendale Councilman Gary Sherwood: “I truly believe (the Coyotes) will prevail. Unless there is a smoking gun there, I don’t know how (the city would win), I don’t see that at all.”
• Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton: “(The Coyotes) happen to play in Glendale, but they’re important to the entire region.”
• Arizona Governor Doug Ducey: “I’d like to see (the Coyotes) stay (in Arizona), but right now, the ball is in Glendale’s court.”
• U.S. Senator John McCain: “I don’t understand why the city of Glendale wouldn’t first say ‘Look, we don’t like the deal we have and we want to negotiate.'”
Arizona Coyotes file restraining order against Glendale
The Coyotes formally began court proceedings against the city on June 12, filing a restraining order against Glendale.
“The Arizona Coyotes have acted to defend their rights and reaffirm their continuing commitment to their great fans by seeking a restraining order to stop the City of Glendale’s baseless attack on, and improper attempt to void, the Coyotes’ lawful and proper lease to play at Gila River Arena,” the team said in a statement.
A Superior Court judge granted the request for a temporary restraining order and set a date, June 29, for further hearings.
LeBlanc said the city was in the wrong when it cancelled the Coyotes’ lease agreement and the only way to move forward now would be through legal proceedings.
“The appropriate measure would be for the city of Glendale to go back in session and revoke what they enacted two days ago and move forward as the partnership was negotiated good faith less than two years ago,” he said. “We think that’s the only way to move forward.”
What will the Arizona Coyotes do next?
The Coyotes franchise is currently on the brink of relocation and, depending on how legal proceedings go, they could be forced to relocate.
With a great amount of public interest in moving the team back to downtown Phoenix, where the team spent seven seasons in Arizona sharing a downtown arena with the Phoenix Suns, Stanton said he is willing to talk about another partnership.
“I reached out to the Phoenix Suns and asked if they’d be willing to at least engage in conversation and both sides want to engage in conversation,” he said in an interview with Arizona Sports 98.7’s Doug and Wolf Show. “Of course, the Coyotes should pursue all reasonable options to stay here in the Valley of the Sun.”
KTAR News’ Jessica Suerth contributed to this report.
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