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Reinsdorf plans offer to acquire ailing Coyotes

JERRY Reinsdorf, owner of the National Basketball Association's Chicago Bulls and Major League Baseball team the Chicago White Sox, has promised to make an offer by Friday to buy the bankrupt Phoenix Coyotes and keep the team in Arizona.

Reinsdorf's attorney Alan Klein said his client is in the midst of conversations with the city of Glendale on a new lease agreement that would be part of the proposal.

Klein made the comment from Chicago via conference call on Monday in US Bankruptcy Court in Phoenix, where Judge Redfield T Baum adopted a sale schedule that gives the National Hockey League the first shot at finding a buyer who will keep the team in Arizona.

The judge set Friday as a deadline for potential buyers who would keep the team in Arizona to submit purchase applications to the NHL.

If a suitable buyer for Arizona isn't found by the August 5 sale date, Baum established a backup schedule for anyone who would want to move the team. That would allow Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie to renew his US$212.5 million bid to buy the franchise and move it to Hamilton, Ontario.

Baum rejected an attempt by Balsillie and Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes to have the Canadian bid considered at the same time any offers are judged to keep the team in Arizona.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the judge's decision to open bidding for a local owner first "gives the Coyotes a real shot to remain in the Phoenix-Glendale area."

However, Balsillie's representative Richard Rodier refused to consider Baum's decision a setback, saying it doesn't matter that the team will be offered to local ownership first.

"It's the way it should be anyway," Rodier said outside the courthouse after the three-hour hearing. "A city shouldn't lose its franchise unless there's a good reason, so let them take a shot. If Mr Reinsdorf has an offer that makes sense to the city of Glendale and makes it work long-term, tremendous. More power to them."

Moyes surprised the NHL by filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on May 5 with a plan to sell the team to Balsillie, contingent on moving the franchise to Hamilton.


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