GLENDALE, Ariz. – An agreement is in place for the Arizona Coyotes to change owners for the second time in 14 months.
The current owners insist selling a majority stake to Andrew Barroway will only strengthen the franchise’s ties to Arizona.
IceArizona agreed Friday to sell a 51 per cent stake to Barroway for $155 million, a deal that still must be approved by the NHL’s Board of Governors. If it is, Barroway will replace George Gosbee as the team’s chairman and governor.
“There has never been discussion of moving the franchise (within IceArizona), there has never been discussion of moving the franchise with Andy,” Coyotes President Anthony LeBlanc said Friday night. “This franchise is here in the Valley, it is not going anywhere. I hope people will listen to that and it will stop the nauseating conversation. We are here to stay.”
IceArizona purchased the franchise last year from the NHL, which had been running it since Jerry Moyes took the team into bankruptcy in 2009.
The members of IceArizona had not considered selling a stake in the team despite numerous offers, spending the off-season upgrading the team’s arena and working on a sponsorship and naming-rights agreement with Gila River Casinos.
But when Barroway came calling about two months ago, IceArizona listened and, eventually came up with a deal.
Barroway has been a successful hedge fund manager, serving as the managing partner of Merion Investment Management LP, an event-driven hedge fund that manages more than $1 billion. He previously tried to buy the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders.
“This is truly a dream come true for me and my family,” Barroway said in a statement. “I am extraordinarily grateful for the opportunity of a lifetime and look forward to working and solidifying a strong partnership with the club’s current ownership group. As a group we are committed to serving our fans with a new level of excellence and our collective goal is to put a competitive team on the ice every season and, one day, win the Stanley Cup.”
Selling a majority stake to Barroway will give the Coyotes a massive financial infusion while giving the members of Canadian-based IceArizona a substantial tax break. None of the IceArizona members will leave the ownership group and will still have a say in most decisions with the franchise.
“There’s no question as a 51 per cent owner, you have say over a number of things, but it’s also fair to say there are a number of things of substantial importance that will require going to the broader group along the lines of budgeting,” LeBlanc said.
LeBlanc acknowledged that the Coyotes had financial losses in IceArizona’s first year of ownership, though said the figures that have been reported — up to $24 million — are inaccurate and were in line with their forecasts. He said the owners expect another season of losses in 2014-15 and hopefully will start turning a profit next year.