The drama surrounded Coyotes ownership has raged for years, from one owner putting the team into bankruptcy, to the NHL buying the Yotes up, to the courts blocking one sale because the league opposed Jim Balsillie's plan to move the team to Hamilton, Ontario, to the emergence of Greg Jamison as a potential savior.
Jamison reached an agreement to purchase the Coyotes from the NHL for a reported $170 million, along with a cushy, and controversial, lease from the city of Glendale. That lease deal, which would see the city pay the Coyotes $15 million a year over 20 years to operate the Jobing.com Arena, expires at midnight tonight—putting what amounts to a deadline on Jamison's ability to come up with the cash. It's being reported that as of last night, Jamison simply doesn't have it.
(As recently as Monday, Jamison was telling the local paper that the sale was "moving forward. There will be an announcement before the end of the week." I guess there will be an announcement, just not the one Jamison had hoped to make.)
It's long been openly wondered how Jamison could produce the money, and those suspicions appear to have been proven right. This isn't a case of charlatanism, like Boots Del Biaggio, who fleeced his investors to raise money to buy the Predators, or John Spano, who bought the Islanders before the league realized he was a fraud. Jamison, a longtime sports executive, is probably only guilty of optimism—he thought he could find investors to make up the difference, but no one wanted to get in on a franchise that's losing $25 million a year.
So what's next? Jamison could make another run, as could a reported second group of investors, but both would likely have to do it without the sweetheart arena lease. If Seattle gets the Kings, they'll have a new arena, and become the frontrunner for any relocated franchise. Quebec City has plans for a new arena and an ownership group looking to lure teams to town. And just yesterday, Markham, Ontario, approved funding for an NHL-quality arena. Basically, the Coyotes are where they were four years ago, having done nothing in the interim but raise hopes and break hearts.