Judge grants restraining order in Coyotes lease dispute
Jun. 13, 2015
PHOENIX (AP) — A judge granted a temporary restraining order Friday requested by the Arizona Coyotes to prevent the city of Glendale from dissolving its arena lease agreement with the team.
The order does not address whether the city must make the next payment due to IceArizona, the Coyotes' owner, for operating the arena.
Jim Condo, an attorney for the Coyotes, said the order during the last-minute hearing was just one step in what would be a long process.
"We're certainly fortunate the judge heard us this afternoon. We're certainly fortunate the judge has agreed to continue the case. I think we've got a lot of work ahead of us," Condo said.
Coyotes officials say the restraining order was needed to stop the city's "improper attempt" to void a 15-year agreement to play at the Gila River Arena. The Glendale City Council voted Wednesday to void the agreement, angering the team and fans and creating uncertainty about the team's future.
The agreement signed in 2013 calls for the city to pay $15 million a year to IceArizona to manage the arena. But Glendale council members raised concerns last week about where that money was going.
Coyotes co-owners Anthony LeBlanc and Andrew Barroway said the vote caught them completely by surprise.
Glendale city officials will meet Tuesday in a closed-door executive session. Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers expressed optimism about a possible compromise in a statement Friday.
"An opportunity for the two of us to discuss the issues has presented itself, and I am optimistic that with continued dialogue we can come to an agreement that satisfies both parties," Weiers said.
LeBlanc said the only way to move forward would be for the city to "go back into session and revoke what they enacted two days ago and move forward as the partnership that was negotiated in good faith less than two years ago."
The ordeal has intensified relocation speculation for the team with a long list of potential suitors waiting in the wings, including Seattle, Portland, Oregon, and Las Vegas. One overture has already come from across town.
If the Coyotes eventually lose their bid to stay in Glendale, the city of Phoenix is already laying the groundwork for the team to move back to the downtown arena where the NBA's Phoenix Suns play. The Coyotes played there after moving to Arizona in 1996. The Glendale arena opened in 2003.
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said Friday that's he's spoken with Suns owner Robert Sarver and Coyotes executives about a possible joint use of the city-owned US Airways Center, which is managed by the Suns.
"The message was, we don't know how this legal situation is going to come out, we just want to make sure that we're part of the solution," Stanton said. "If the team is in a position where they don't have a home, we want to make sure they don't leave this region."
LeBlanc and attorney Nick Wood called the mayor's remarks a kind gesture but said they are set on remaining in Glendale.
Associated Press Writer Bob Christie contributed to this report.