The Arizona Coyotes may soon have a new owner, but according to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, the team will not be changing zip codes.
While the New York Post's Josh Kosman reported "the NHL is arranging the sale of the Arizona Coyotes to billionaire William Foley who will move the team to Las Vegas giving it its first major professional franchise, one source said," Bettman swiftly refuted that notion.
Fox Sports Arizona's Craig Morgan passed along responses from the commissioner and team owner Anthony LeBlanc:
Despite the prospective Las Vegas franchise having obtained the 10,000 season-ticket deposits necessary for relocation under William Foley, according to Kosman, the organization remained adamant regarding the future of the Coyotes in the Southwest.
"The Coyotes are committed to playing in Arizona," a Coyotes spokesman said, according to Kosman.
Foley is reportedly targeting the 2016-17 campaign as the franchise's inaugural season in Sin City, but there are evidently plenty of hurdles that need to be cleared. Kosman also noted 2016 is the same year an arena capable of seating 20,000 fans is set to open in Las Vegas.
However, an official press release from the NHL just last week did confirm the league would be accepting applications for expansion, which would leave the door open for a Las Vegas franchise to emerge should Foley's bid to relocate the Coyotes fall flat:
Over the past several years we have received numerous expressions of interest from potential markets and ownership groups that have indicated an interest in joining the National Hockey League. The Board decided today to examine those expressions more formally and also to welcome any other groups or markets that may be considering pursuit of an NHL team. The fact that we are beginning this process does not necessarily mean that any expansion teams will be granted as a result of this process.
Another layer here revolves around the legal battle the franchise has been engaged in with the city of Glendale. Back on June 10, "the council voted 5-2 on Wednesday night to end a 15-year, $225 million lease agreement signed by Glendale and IceArizona shortly after the team was purchased from the NHL in 2013," according to ESPN.com.
On Monday, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge ordered the city to pay the franchise a sum of $3.75 million stemming from the previous arena management agreement, according to AZCentral.com's Peter Corbett.