The Phoenix Coyotes' behind-the-scenes rollercoaster effort to remain in Arizona has taken a disastrous turn for the worst.
Greg Jamison, who has seemingly been involved in negotiations to purchase the team since last June, is reportedly short of the funds needed to purchase the team before the Thursday night deadline.
Per ESPN's Scott Burnside via Twitter:
If Jamison fails to meet the financial requirements—currently estimated to be around $308 million—to make the purchase in time, a 20-year lease to keep the franchise in the City of Glendale would be voided.
ESPN.com has the details:
A separate group of investors is prepared to step into the void created by Jamison's failure to produce the money he repeatedly insisted he would deliver to complete the deal, but the question is whether Glendale officials will agree to extend the lease agreement to a new group given that it was Jamison who negotiated the terms of the highly contentious lease deal.
[Glendale mayor Jerry] Weiers told the Arizona Republic he made it clear to Jamison that the city would not honor the lease deal 'one second past' the midnight deadline.
The NHL has owned the team for almost four years and, barring the emergence of a new suitor willing to start from scratch with the City of Glendale on a lease if things fall apart this week, it would seem inevitable the league will begin the process of relocation.
Despite three consecutive playoff berths leading up to this season, the Coyotes are off to a rough start in their 2012-13 campaign. Their 2-4-0 record ranked 14th in the Western Conference prior to Wednesday's game against Edmonton.
Phoenix is also having a tough time drawing fans to Jobing.com Arena, with an average attendance of 12,269 through four home games this year. They've drawn fewer than 9,000 to two of those games, as well, and are almost 3,000 fans behind the second least-attended team.
With recent success still not leading to anything resembling solid ticket sales—the 'Yotes haven't ranked outside the league's bottom three in attendance since 2006-07—it seems that hockey in the desert may simply be a failed exercise.
For many critics of Jamison's plan, this last-second collapse comes as no surprise. In fact, the loss of the franchise's last hope may, in fact, make the potentially upcoming relocation process more decisive and efficient. After all, there's certainly no shortage of cities vying for a team.
Mark Jones has been a Bleacher Report featured columnist since 2009, receiving almost a million views on his 450-plus articles to date.