GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Two owners of the Phoenix Coyotes are
splitting their partnership in the parent company of the NHL team
and the Westgate City Center development complex around Glendale
Coyotes Holdings majority investor Jerry Moyes will run the team
and Steve Ellman, a developer with a 25 percent ownership interest,
will take control of the planned Westgate mega-retail project that
is two years behind schedule.
"Today, I'm going to exit the public spotlight," Ellman said
at a Glendale Arena news conference Wednesday.
Moyes, former chief executive of Phoenix-based Swift
Transportation Co. Inc., has been the financial muscle for the
Coyotes and Westgate, investing roughly $241 million of his
personal wealth into Coyotes Holdings, according to public records.
Moyes, Ellman and Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky joined to buy the
team in 2001 for about $125 million. Gretzky, who will continue to
have a minority ownership in both ventures, said after the news
conference that he will decide shortly after the season whether to
return as coach next year.
Moyes is also a limited partner in the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Flashing his 2001 World Series championship ring, Moyes said,
"Wayne, we're not going to be satisfied until we get another one
of these rings, all right?"
Gretzky, who stood in the back of the room, smiled at the
The franchise, which moved to the Valley from Winnipeg in 1996,
has never won a Stanley Cup, and the Coyotes have made the playoffs
only once since Moyes, Ellman and Gretzky bought the team. Phoenix
won't make the playoffs this season.
Asked if he had a timeframe for winning a title, Moyes said,
"Within the next four-five years, I think that we should have
Jeff Shumway, a former corporate lawyer, Phoenix native and
Moyes' personal attorney, was named Coyotes chief executive
officer. Shumway, who has no hockey experience, will become the
team's governor, giving him day-to-day control of the team.
"I have about 20 other companies," Moyes said. "Therefore,
I'm not going to be real hands-on."
Shumway said the team's management would remain in place, with
Doug Moss as president, Michael Barnett as general manager and
Cliff Fletcher as vice president of hockey operations.
Ellman will remain chairman of the board and governor until the
NHL board of governors approves the ownership change.
Ellman will pay an undisclosed sum to Moyes as they divide the
assets. He declined to comment on an Arizona Republic report that
the figure could approach $100 million.
The deal also gives Moyes the arena management business, which
under Ellman brought in some of the biggest concert acts in the
world, along with future arena naming rights and the Arizona Sting
pro indoor lacrosse team.
Moyes also assumes the Coyotes' debt, which is about $65
Ellman denied reports that the move represents a split between
"There's no split," he said. "Westgate and the arena, it's
still together. They're still dependent on each other's success.
We're still part of each other's business futures."
"We were able to split our businesses," Ellman said. "We'll
take real estate and Jerry will take sports."
Ellman said he would obtain financing to finish Westgate, which
will be roughly 6.5 million square feet over 223 acres. Westgate's
first phase is set to open this fall with 500,000 square feet of
shops, restaurants, loft office space and a 20-screen movie