Jim Balsillie co-CEO of RIM (Research In Motion) speaks to the media, May 25, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley
Jim Balsillie's offer to buy the Phoenix Coyotes comes with an expiry date.
The Canadian billionaire is only willing to put up US$212.5-million for the NHL team until June 30, according to documents filed in a U.S. bankruptcy court on Tuesday.
Thomas J. Salerno, the lawyer for Coyotes majority owner Jerry Moyes, asked the court to amend the bid procedure to "maximize value to the estate." It notes that Balsillie's company - PSE Sports & Entertainment - wants the sale completed by the end of next month so that the Coyotes can be moved before the start of next season.
"Neither PSE Sports nor any other known entity will fund another year of significant losses ... sustained by Coyotes Hockey," Salerno said in the court document.
Court documents also say the franchise lost $74 million over the past two years.
In previous court filings, Balsillie has said that he would wait one season before moving the team to Hamilton as long as the NHL was willing to cover an additional year of losses in Phoenix. The league claims that there isn't enough time to handle the logistics involved with moving a franchise at this point.
Salerno argues that there is no other choice if the court wants to get the most money possible for the team's many creditors.
"An expedited sale is necessary to maximize the value of Coyotes Hockey's assets," he said. "Any prospective purchaser that is serious about acquiring Coyotes Hockey's assets will want any transaction closed before the upcoming NHL draft."
The timing will be tough.
Judge Redfield T. Baum will hear arguments in a Phoenix court on June 22 about whether the Coyotes can be moved as part of a court-supervised auction to sell the team. The draft will be held at Montreal's Bell Centre on June 26 and 27.
It seems likely that an auction for the franchise will be held in July or August, but Moyes's lawyer hopes the process can be sped up.
"A sale cannot drag through the summer of 2009," said Salerno.