The nasty legal dispute between the Arizona Coyotes and city of Glendale, Arizona, appears to be over, with the organization announcing Thursday afternoon that the two sides have reached a resolution to amend an existing lease agreement.
The City Council will vote on the amendments to the 15-year, $225 million lease for Gila River Arena during a meeting Friday. The amended deal calls for the original agreement to be cut to two years, expiring on June 30, 2017.
It also would trim the management fee the city pays annually to the Coyotes from $15 million to $6.5 million and shift all hockey-related revenue to the team instead of Glendale, which would generate approximately $6 million for the Coyotes. A five-year out clause if the team lost more than $50 million that was part of the original agreement also has been removed.
The City Council voted June 10 to terminate the agreement with the Coyotes, citing a conflict-of-interest law involving two Glendale employees who later went on to work for the Coyotes.
A judge granted the Coyotes' request for a temporary restraining order two days later. A judge also ordered the city to make a scheduled $3.75 million payment to the team on June 29 and the Coyotes to increase their bond payment to Glendale by $750,000 to $1 million.
If passed, the amended arena lease agreement will keep the Coyotes in Gila River Arena for the next two seasons, but will likely further relocation speculation that has swirled around the team for the past six years. It could also open the door for the Coyotes to negotiate for a new arena in downtown Phoenix or look into other options.
"This revised agreement represents a positive outcome for both the city and the Coyotes," Glendale acting city manager Dick Bowers said in a team-issued news release. "It also allows us to move forward in a way that keeps an important economic driver in our community. That's important for business and it's important to our citizens."
Coyotes co-owner Anthony LeBlanc stressed the importance of putting the contentious battle behind the team.
"We have come up with a resolution that works for both sides and is best for the team, our fans, the city and most importantly the taxpayers," LeBlanc said in the statement. "Neither side benefits from a long, drawn-out legal battle. What's important is putting this dispute behind us and focusing on growing the Coyotes business and in turn, further growing revenues for the entire Westgate Entertainment District.
"This decision will bring much-needed certainty to our fans and sponsors about our near-term future and an end to the uncertainty brought about through this legal action. We know that hockey works in the Valley and we are committed to Arizona for the long-term. We thank Coyotes fans and sponsors for their incredible support throughout this process. They have proven that they are among the most loyal and ardent in the NHL."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.