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Coyotes Owner Extends Buy Deadline

May 17, 2000

PHOENIX (AP) _ Phoenix Coyotes owner Richard Burke has extended the deadline for a prospective buyer to make a $10 million down payment.

Developer Steve Ellman was to have delivered the money to Burke on Wednesday. But Burke, in a gesture he called unsolicited, gave Ellman an extension until May 26.

``I offered this with the expectation that it will remove some time pressure associated with completing the transaction,″ Burke told The Arizona Republic.

Ellman has been trying to round up investors to help with the purchase, which must be completed by June 30 with an additional $17 million cash payment and a $60 million loan transfer.

Wayne Gretzky’s name surfaced last week as a potential co-owner amid reports that he felt the opportunity was right, but the timing wasn’t.

``Every hour that goes by without Gretzky making an announcement causes me to worry that he’s having second thoughts or cold feet,″ state Department of Commerce director of administration Chris Baier told the Tribune, a newspaper serving suburban Phoenix.

Michael Barnett, Gretzky’s agent, did not return a phone call Wednesday seeking comment on the new timeline.

If Ellman defaults on the deal, Burke would be free to look for other buyers. One is readily available in Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who wants to move the franchise to Portland, Ore.

The NHL, which brokered the Burke-Ellman agreement in an attempt to keep the team in Phoenix, does not consider the extension a setback.

``It’s not uncommon for deadlines to become flexible in cases where more time may be needed to secure any of a number of components in a multifaceted undertaking,″ NHL spokesman Frank Brown said.

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