The Phoenix Coyotes are staying put for now, Hamilton is still on the outside looking in, and the NHL has managed to turn away Jim Balsillie once again.
Arizona bankruptcy Judge Redfield T. Baum rejected the Canadian billionaire’s bold bid for the insolvent team yesterday, saying in a 21-page ruling there wasn’t enough time to deal with all the unresolved issues raised by the unprecedented case.
Balsillie had sought to buy the Coyotes out of Chapter 11 protection with a $212.5-million US offer that was conditional on being able to move the team to Hamilton. He had set a June 29 closing date for the sale in an attempt to speed through the process and have the club in place for the 2009-10 season.
But Baum wouldn’t have it. There were a myriad of legal issues to deal with, including how much the NHL would get as a relocation fee, and not much time to sort them out. There was also a tentative auction set for June 22 looming.
“Simply put, the court does not think there is sufficient time (14 days) for all of these issues to be fairly presented to the court given that deadline,” Baum wrote.
The ruling is a victory for the NHL, which had argued the bid was designed to skirt league rules on the transfer of ownership and relocation and should be rejected for that reason.
The league also believes the Coyotes are still viable in Phoenix, even though the team has lost more than $300 million since moving to the desert in 1996, according to court documents.
Hamilton, which had lined up behind Balsillie and was ready to welcome him with open arms, ends up a jilted bridesmaid once more, its hopes of becoming home to the seventh Canadian NHL team falling short just like several other previous attempts.
And Balsillie must settle for a public relations victory with his intelligent and successful Make It Seven marketing campaign after failing to close the deal just like in his previous attempts to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators.