Coyotes lost $60-million

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Globe and Mail

David Cynamon , owner of the Argo's and wife Stacey Cynamon, Nancy Pencer's daughter. The Gerry and Nancy Pencer Brain Trust Noir, at The Liberty Grand Ballroom Toronto, May 21, 2008. Janice Pinto/Freelance

With bids for the Phoenix Coyotes due in an Arizona bankruptcy court today, the club has revealed it lost more than $60-million (all currency U.S.) last season.

Documents filed in court show the club's hockey operations posted a $27.1-million loss for the year ended June 30. Hockey revenue, which came largely from ticket sales, totalled $58.3-million, about $7-million less than the club expected.

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The net loss, which included interest payments and other costs, was $67.1-million, according to the filing.

The hockey operations have lost well over $20-million annually in each of the last three NHL seasons, according to documents filed in court.

The Coyotes filed for Chapter 11 protection in May and an auction for bidders who will keep the team in Phoenix is slated for Aug. 5.

Bids for that auction are due today and so far only one proposal has been filed, an offer worth up to $148-million from Jerry Reinsdorf, owner of the Chicago Bulls and Chicago White Sox. Another group led by Daryl Jones, of Research Edge LLC in New Haven, Conn., has indicated that it is planning to make a bid.

If the Aug. 5 auction fails to deliver a decent offer, the bankruptcy court will hold another auction on Sept. 10 to relocate the club. Jim Balsillie has offered $212.5-million to move the Coyotes to Hamilton.

The NHL had indicated in court filings that four groups were interested in buying the club and keeping it in Phoenix. They consisted of Reinsdorf; Howard Sokolowski and David Cynamon, owners of the CFL's Toronto Argonauts; John Breslow, a current Coyotes co-owner; and another unidentified Phoenix businessman.

Sources familiar with the auction say the Argo co-owners have not participated in negotiations to buy the club and that Breslow plans to join one of the other bidding groups. The unnamed Phoenix businessman is also believed to be interested only in investing about $20-million with another bid.

Reinsdorf's proposal carries several conditions, including a new arena lease and concessions from creditors. "He doesn't want to pay a whole lot for this team. He's not going to get into any sort of bidding war," said a source close to the auction.

Yesterday NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly expressed confidence that the auction will result in a new owner who will keep the club in Phoenix. "We always have felt that way," he said in an e-mail. "It continues to be our feeling. But we're not in total control of the process."

It is not clear what will happen to Wayne Gretzky, the Coyotes' coach and co-owner. In an interview last week, Jones said his group is eager to work with Gretzky, but it's not clear what that would involve. A source familiar with the auction said Reinsdorf has not been clear about his intentions toward Gretzky, who has declined to comment on the sale process.

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