HAMILTON EXPECT DEAL FOR NHL TEAM
May 14, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures
Hamilton, Ontario - Hamilton officials expect to tie down a deal shortly with Jim Balsillie to
lease Copps Coliseum for an NHL franchise, but the placement of a team is still far from certain.
Balsillie wants to buy the Phoenix Coyotes and move the franchise, but the team is tied up in
bankruptcy court and the NHL is opposing any move.
Another investment group is also reportedly attempting to buy an NHL team and move it to
Hamilton and details about its efforts are less clear. The group has been rumored to be interested
in the Atlanta Thrashers, but team officials say a move isn't in the cards.
Hamilton officials say they've talked with the second group, but will focus on a deal with Balsillie.
In Atlanta, the Thrashers say there are many elements that tie the team to the community, not
the least of which is the naming rights deal with Philips for the arena which require both an NBA
and NHL team to be tenants. There is also a lawsuit among Atlanta Spirit owners that is working
its way through the courts. Atlanta Spirit is the firm that owns the Thrashers, Hawks and the right
to operate the arena.
Balsillie's previous talks with Hamilton about leasing the arena were the basis of the new deal.
The new plan makes Balsillie responsible for C$30 million in upgrades with additional funds to
come from the provincial and federal governments for a total of C$150 million. Balsillie would get a
32-year lease and would take over and management of Hamilton Entertainment Facilities Inc.,
which oversees the 19,000-seat Copps Coliseum.
The agreement could expire in two ways, by Oct. 31, 2009, or two weeks after the end of the
court proceedings if Balsillie doesn't own the Coyotes.
The next battle will come in bankruptcy court in Phoenix where a judge has told the league it
must reveal its plan to sell the team to a group led by Jerry Reinsdorf, owner of the Chicago White
Sox. The league was reportedly close to announcing the sale when the Coyotes rushed into
bankruptcy so that the team could be sold to Balsillie for $212.5 million. Reports say Reinsdorf was
offering $130 million if Glendale provided $15 million in subsides or other financial incentives.
Balsillie's offer is contingent on being able to move the team to Hamilton.
The city of Glendale is moving aggressively to keep the team in Jobbing.com Arena. The city
issued roughly $180-million worth of bonds in 2003 to pay for construction of the building. The
Coyotes manage the facility through a separate company called Arena Management and pay the
city about $2.4-million annually in total fees. However, the Coyotes have argued that Arena
Management is insolvent and lost more than $20-million in three years.
While the city claims the lease includes an early termination penalty of $700 million, the
Coyotes are unlikely to be able to pay anywhere near that amount even if the terms of the lease are
enforced by the bankruptcy court judge. In a recent report, bond rating agency Moody's said it is
monitoring the situation and noted that if the team does move, it would "add to the budgetary
pressure the city is experiencing as a result of the recession."
Legal experts say Glendale faces a tough battle. Under Chapter 11 proceedings, insolvent
companies can usually walk away from most obligations and reorganize or sell assets. Balsillie's
offer does not include the arena and it is conditional on moving the team to Hamilton. If it is
approved, the arena lease would likely be scrapped, experts say.
Jim Balsillie Unveils Dramatic Revitalization for Copps Coliseum
State-of-the-Art Upgrades Make Potential Home a “Top Tier” NHL Arena
May 29, 2009
Toronto - Plans to transform Hamilton’s Copps Coliseum into a spectacular home arena for a new Southern Ontario NHL franchise were unveiled today by Jim Balsillie.
With a focus on fan-friendly cutting edge designs, the new Copps Coliseum would feature a soaring atrium-style entrance lobby, a range of luxury boxes, new lounges and restaurants, food and bar amenities throughout and capacity for more than 18,000 spectators. The design also fully addresses requirements the NHL has previously communicated for Copps Coliseum.
The design is by one of the world’s leading sports facility architectural firms BBB Architects and its subsidiary group, Stadium Consultants International (SCI), which is also currently working on renovations at Madison Square Garden in New York (home of the New York Rangers) and Nassau County Coliseum (home of the New York Islanders). The design for Copps Coliseum is aimed at improving the fan experience, from proximity to players, to viewing positions and entertainment options. Full details will be posted at www.makeitseven.ca.
“A new team for the best new hockey market deserves spectacular new home ice, and that’s exactly what the upgraded Copps Coliseum would offer,” said Balsillie. “This facility will deliver unparalleled excitement and bring fans closer than ever to the action.”
The revitalized Copps Coliseum would also offer a year-round state-of-the-art venue for concerts, conferences, and trade shows, adding to Hamilton’s already impressive conference hosting capabilities through its Hamilton Place facilities.
The estimated cost for the long-term renovation of Copps Coliseum is $150 million in 2007 dollars (the year the last detailed construction estimate was calculated). The estimate could vary significantly based on timelines, approvals and access to the facility for construction purposes.
* New atrium-style lobby with major ticketing area and new street-level retail
* New main concourse with new finishes throughout and direct access to lower seating bowl
* New Club Lounge and Club Seating Section
* 50 Mid-Level Private Suites, 20 new “Bunker Suites” with prime seats in first six rows “between the blue lines”
* 4 Group Suites at mid-level plus Group Sales/Party Deck in upper seating bowl
* New Home & Visitor Hockey Club Locker Rooms
* All new rink surface, ice plant and climate control systems
* All new upholstered seating throughout
“When completed, the BBB Renovation Plan will transform Copps Coliseum into a first class professional sports and entertainment facility, which will in turn promote a first class experience for visitors through the redesign and transformation of the building,” said Chris O’Reilly, Principal with BBB Architects.
“This would be a jaw-dropper of an attraction for Hamilton,” said the City’s mayor, Fred Eisenberger. “What I’ve seen would make the new Copps Coliseum a magnet for sports fans and concert-goers across Ontario and North America. It would be a tremendous new asset for our city, and a major part of the revitalization of downtown Hamilton.”
BBB Architects (BBB) and its subsidiary group, Stadium Consultants International (SCI), of Toronto, have been involved in the design and development of numerous sports & entertainment/multi-use spectator facilities in Canada, the U.S., Europe and Asia, over the last two decades. BBB and SCI have been responsible for the design of many new projects, including the Air Canada Centre and BMO Field in Toronto, GM Place in Vancouver, Color Line Arena in Hamburg, and Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, to name a few. BBB and SCI also have gained considerable expertise in designing major renovations to existing spectator arenas. Completed renovation projects at the professional sports level include Edmonton’s Rexall Place, Calgary’s Pengrowth Saddledome and Portland’s Rose Garden. BBB is also currently the main architects and designers for two high profile NHL arena renovations. Our clients typically include various levels of government, major institutions, professional sports team owners and leagues, as well as private developers.
BALSILLIE OUTLINES PLANS FOR HAMILTON ARENA
June 4, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures
Hamilton, Ontario - The potential new owner of the Phoenix Coyotes, Jim Balsillie, says he
wants to add a new scoreboard, new seats and new luxury suites to the 24-year-old arena in
Hamilton where he hopes to move the team. The investment would be close to C$150 million.
While Balsillie says he will pay for short term costs, he expects the city, which owns the 18,000-
seat Copps Coliseum, to pay for the work possibly with additional funds from the provincial and
The province already plans to spend infrastructure dollars in Hamilton to help support Ontario's
bid for the 2015 Pan Am Games - funds Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has suggested could be
used to fix up Copps Coliseum.
Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger thinks it'd be fair for the provincial and federal governments to
contribute to the project since they'd likely get a good return on their investment through tax dollars.
The Balsillie plan also calls for new locker-rooms, rink surface, ice plant and climate control
The design is by sports facility architectural firms BBB Architects and its subsidiary, Stadium
Consultants International, which is also currently working on renovations at Madison Square
Garden and Nassau County Coliseum, home of the New York Islanders.
The co-CEO of BlackBerry maker Research In Motion has made a $212.5 million bid for the
financially ailing Coyotes on the condition he can move the club to Hamilton. Balsillie has
promised a 32-year lease if he can move the team.
The NHL is against the move and instead wants to find a buyer who will keep the team in
Balsillie also survived a review by the Federal Trade Commission which said it would not block
the sale based on antitrust issues.
JUDGE REJECTS QUICK SALE TO BALSILLIE
June 18, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures
Phoenix, Ariz. - A federal bankruptcy court judge has rejected a June 29 deadline to meet Jim
Balsillie's offer to buy the Phoenix Coyotes and move the franchise to Canada. Balsillie says he's
not finished with his efforts to acquire the team.
The city of Glendale, which holds the debt on Jobing.com Arena, and the NHL opposed the
sale to Balsillie. Owner Jerry Moyes sought to sell the team for $212.5 million while the NHL was
putting together a plan that would have resulted in a lesser amount.
The judge dismissed that timing as untenable, considering the complexity of issues that need to
be resolved. The league says it has four potential buyers who would keep the team where it is.
The judge's decision, at least for now, makes moot arguments by the NHL that the league
should decide where teams can be located and Moyes' claim that such actions violate anti-trust
laws. It also sets Glendale's concerns aside because no move is on the table. A move is still possible
if the judge decides to proceed with the bankruptcy proceeding and auction off the franchise.
The judge suggested that Balsillie and the NHL work together in a mediation process.
Balsillie's representatives said they are open to that and to discussing a possible relocation fee to
the league. The league believes a fee is appropriate because of the impact a move would have on
the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Buffalo Sabres.
"We still think there is enough time for the NHL to approve Mr. Balsillie's application and
move the team to Hamilton by September," said a spokesman for Balsillie. "The court invited
mediation on these issues and Mr. Balsillie is willing to participate in such mediation ..."
While noting that the case raised many unique legal issues, the judge sided with the league on
most of the issues. The judge said the Coyotes had a contract to play in Glendale, a Phoenix
suburb, and Balsillie's offer would violate that contract.
"Simply put, this court disagrees with the assertions by [Balsillie's lawyers] that the relocation
requirement can be excised from the 'contract' because it violates some portion of [the bankruptcy
code] or is unlawful under the anti-trust claims alleged by [Balsillie]," the judge wrote.
The judge added that Balsillie's offer had to satisfy the relocation fee issue. He said, "this
apparent economic right of the NHL must be appropriately resolved for the [offer] to satisfy the
requirements [of bankruptcy law]."
OILERS EXPLORE DEAL WITH HAMILTON ARENA
July 1, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures
Hamilton, Ontario - The Edmonton Oilers are in talks with Hamilton officials about control of
Copps Coliseum, according to the Toronto Star.
Oilers owner Daryl Katz's Rexall Sports Corp. hopes to acquire the lease of the hockey facility
as well as a proposed new football stadium being built for the Pan Am Games.
In a letter to Hamilton city manager Chris Murray under the name of Katz Entertainment
Holdings Corporation and obtained by the Hamilton Spectator, Oilers president Pat LaForge wrote that the purpose the talks is to discuss a "non-binding memorandum of agreement which would lead to a 'license to operate' various (city) properties including Copps Coliseum and the future Pan Am sports stadium proposed for the West Harbor."
In addition to Katz and LaForge, city officials have met with Paul Marcaccio, chief financial officer of the Katz group, and Ted Tanner, executive vice-president of entertainment group AEG, the Spectator said.
Rexall Sports Corp. owns the Oilers, WHL Edmonton Oil Kings and minor league Edmonton Capitals baseball team.
The corporation owns the naming rights to Edmonton's Rexall Centre and is in talks with the city of Edmonton to build a new downtown arena and entertainment district.
Mayor Fred Eisenberger told the Spectator that talking about turning over stadium operations to Katz does not undercut the city's negotiations with the Tiger Cats. The team is expected to be the stadium's primary tenant.
The mayor insists those discussions are only about the stadium location, not the business arrangements connected to the facility. The two sides are working out a dispute over where the stadium should be built.
Tiger Cats president Scott Mitchell told the Spectator that the proposal does undermine discussions with Michael Fenn, the facilitator brought in to help solve the disagreement between the club and the city over the west harbor site.
Jim Balsillie tried several times to locate an NHL team in the Hamilton arena, but was unsuccessful. The venue is located in territory claimed by the Toronto Maple Leafs and a deal with that team would likely be necessary if an NHL team were contemplated. Oilers officials said there is no plan to move the team to Hamilton.
The Hamilton council will make a decision about whether to sign a memorandum of understanding by Aug. 30. Details of the memorandum are confidential, the Spectator said.
OILERS WANT TO BRING NEW HOCKEY TEAM TO HAMILTON
July 8, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures
Hamilton, Ontario - Part of the motivation behind the Edmonton Oilers' efforts to manage
Copps Coliseum in Hamilton is a plan to bring a new NHL team to the venue, according to CTV News.
The television network cited sources that said the offer, which was made in a closed door meeting with Hamilton city council, includes plans to build an entertainment complex and new arena in the steel city's downtown.
Patrick Laforge, the president and CEO of the Edmonton Oilers, was in that meeting, and is quelling rumors about his team moving.
The sources reportedly said the confidential negotiations include four years of NHL rights for Copps Coliseum. If an NHL team does not serve as the anchor tenant, Daryl Katz would be on the hook for the pledged C$1 million.
Hamilton officials will not speak publicly about the meeting because they say many details still need to be ironed out.
"There are many elements in there that might not be as it sits today, so clearly it was a proposal," mayor Fred Eisenberger told CTV.
A statement from the Oilers to CTV reportedly said, "The parties have agreed not to discuss these negotiations in public. ...There has been no discussion about moving the Oilers to Hamilton. The Katz Group remains focused upon creating a framework for a new downtown arena district and the long term sustainability of the Oilers in Edmonton."
NHL rules dictate no team owner can own or have any dealing with the ownership or operation of a second NHL team.
A memorandum of understanding will be brought to Hamilton's city council at the end of August, but in the meantime the Katz Group is set to meet with Edmonton's city council on July 21st.