Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A "No Decision" in Phoenix

As I suspected he would, Judge Baum did not make any decisions yesterday in the bankruptcy proceeding for the Phoenix Coyotes. It was obvious that issues around sports team ownership and relocation are beyond the jurisdiction of a bankruptcy court. Had the matter of ownership been clear cut (and my suspicions were the documents were at best ambiguous) then at least the judge could have concluded who owned the team - Jerry Moyes or the NHL.

But even had Moyes proven he was still owner, the judge could not have made a decision on the sale. Jim Balsillie has made a conditional offer to purchase the team - the condition being that the franchise relocate to Hamilton. Afterall, Balsillie is not interested in owning a team in Phoenix but then who is. Relocation of a sports franchise is not within the court's jurisdiction. So Judge Baum sent the parties off to mediate these issues and then come back so he can continue to work out a plan to pay off creditors of the Coyotes. However, these parties are so far apart than one has to wonder if an agreement can be reached.

The NHL continues to embarrass itself by not dealing with Balsillie. There differences could have been resolved in 2006. Instead he continues to wait in the weeds ready to pounce on the next failing franchise. Unless the NHL is willing to make some compromises, there may only be 29 teams next season.