Judge grants temporary restraining order in Arizona Coyotes lease dispute

It's official -- the Arizona Coyotes have filed a lawsuit, trying to prevent the city of Glendale from walking away from its arena lease with the team.

On Wednesday, the council voted to dissolve the 15-year agreement with the team.

In court, the Coyotes won the first round of this fight with the judge granting a temporary restraining order that allows the Coyotes to continue operations at Gila River Arena.

"We are not happy with the way things have gone this week. They talk of reparable harm. There had irreparable harm to the Coyotes," said the team's owner, Anthony LeBlanc.

In a 5 to 2 vote, the city decided to cancel its contract with the Coyotes, leaving the organization's future in question.

But in court documents filed on Friday, the Coyotes claim the city council "..abused their discretion in approving cancellation of the agreement."

In court, the team's attorney asked the judge to move quickly.

"Uncertainty that hangs over the team is too profound. It is not a cloud anymore, it is a full on it full on haboob," said James Conod.

The city claims the team violated their contract with the city when the team hired a former Glendale city attorney.

In court, the city revealed it is also trying to put a scheduled multi-million dollar payment to the team on hold.

"What we are talking about here is in the context of public interest and public funding," said the attorney.

The coyotes owners say they want to stay in Glendale.

"Regardless of that, we continue to be dedicated to this market.. we think this is a great hockey market," said LeBlanc.

But they want this issue resolved quickly, fearing it could effect recruitment.

"Players.. most of them.. are family men and they have many other things that they have to look at and the concept that they could be bringing their family to a location that may not be there the next year. These are things they think about.. they are normal human beings," said LeBlanc.

The judge is also requiring the Coyotes to pay a $250,000 bond, which will go to the city should the Coyotes lose when this is all decided.

When it will be decided isn't clear. The judge has set a status conference for June 29th.

The Arizona Coyotes issued the following statement on Friday:

"The Arizona Coyotes have acted to defend their rights and reaffirm their continuing commitment to their great fans by seeking a restraining order to stop the City of Glendale's baseless attack on, and improper attempt to void, the Coyotes' lawful and proper lease to play at Gila River Arena. The suit was filed in Maricopa County Superior Court against the City of Glendale, the Glendale City Council and other City officials."

Legal documents filed on June 12:

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton spoke on Friday about what would happen if the Coyotes were no longer able to play in Glendale.  He says there have already been conversations about trying to keep the Coyotes in the region if Glendale walks away from the arena lease.

"After the city council of Glendale took the vote to rescind the agreement with the Coyotes, I reached out to let them know as they go through the legal mechanization, if they're concerned about the future, I as Mayor would ensure they have a future here in the valley of the sun," he said.

Stanton says there are no negotiations going on at this time to move the Coyotes into Phoenix.

Officials at the Westgate shopping center directly adjacent to the arena sent out a statement regarding the situation between the city of Glendale and the Coyotes:

"We are disappointed with the direction chosen by the Glendale City Council last night.  The City should recognize the positive contribution the Coyotes have made in the context of economic development, including the development of the Tanger Outlets Westgate in 2012, the addition of the Tanger Phase 2 in 2014, the Dave and Buster's now under construction as part of the Westgate Entertainment District and the application pending for the construction of a new hotel at Westgate. The combination of all this activity has produced well over 1,000 new permanent jobs, in excess of $200 million a year in annual sales for which the city now receives millions of dollars a year in annual recurring sales tax revenue, and millions of dollars in building permit fees to the City of Glendale. It is a shame that a majority of Glendale council members fail to appreciate and consider the economic activity around the arena and direct financial benefit to the City." 

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