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Coyotes to stay in Arizona; Seattle NHL hopes dashed

The Phoenix Coyotes will remain in Arizona after the Glendale City Council voted 4-3 to approve a lease agreement with the prospective buyers of the NHL franchise. (AP file)

The hopes for a National Hockey League team moving to Seattle were dashed late Tuesday evening, as the Glendale, Ariz. City Council voted 4-3 to approve an agreement that will keep the Phoenix Coyotes in Arizona.

The contentious decision paves the way for the investment group Renaissance Sports and Entertainment to buy the financially troubled franchise from the NHL and lease city-owned Arena in a deal that will pay the new owners $15 million per year.

Critics including the mayor and city manager argued the city would have to cut vital services including fire fighting to cover the costs of the agreement. The city had previously budgeted just $6 million annually.

The lease agreement also includes a controversial “out-clause” that allows the owners to move the money-losing franchise if losses total $50 million or more in the next five years.

NHL officials had said Seattle was a viable market for relocation if the lease agreement wasn’t approved by a league-mandated Tuesday deadline. Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn had confirmed previously the city had undertaken talks with the NHL about the Coyotes. Just last week NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daley had stated the league was comfortable with the NHL playing in KeyArena until a new arena could be build in Seattle.

The vote by the Glendale Council is the second disappointment for Seattle sports fans in recent months. It follows the NBA’s decision to block the proposed sale of the Sacramento Kings to investor Chris Hansen, who tried for over two years to finalize a deal to buy the team and move them to Seattle. Hansen has said he remains committed to bringing the NBA back to Seattle in the coming years.

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