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'Framework' in place for Coyotes lease

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PHOENIX (AP) - A person familiar with the negotiations says a ``framework'' is in place for a lease agreement that would keep the NHL's Phoenix Coyotes in Arizona.

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But while the person characterized the developments as positive, the Glendale City Council still must study the proposal and vote on it. The next council meeting is set for June 25 and the NHL Board of Governors meets two days later.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the proposed agreement hasn't been made public.

Representatives of the team's prospective buyer, Renaissance Sports and Entertainment, have been talking with city officials about the lease, which is crucial for the sale of the team to go through and keep it playing at the city-owned Jobing.com Arena.

The NHL has been operating the franchise since buying it out of U.S. Bankruptcy Court in 2009.

The report of a framework agreement on a lease first was reported Friday by Fox Sports Arizona.

The city has budgeted $6 million per year for managing the arena, while the prospective buyers - who would manage the facility - reportedly need far more than that to make it work. The sides apparently have come up with some way to bridge that gap.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said Wednesday that the time was coming for some decisions to be made. Either the city was going to make the necessary decisions to keep the Coyotes or the franchise would find a new home. Bettman also raised the possibility the team might just take a one-year hiatus.

``Obviously, we're getting to the point where some decisions are going to have to be made, both by the city of Glendale and by us,'' Bettman said before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals. ``We haven't set a deadline, but the time is getting shorter. ... We're still focused on making it work with the Coyotes staying in Arizona.''

RSE is headed by a group of Canadian investors, who have a purchase agreement with the NHL but it's contingent on reaching a lease agreement with the financially-strapped Glendale. The city figures to lose money one way or another, at least in the short term, but presumably would lose less with the Coyotes as an anchor tenant.

``This is really going to be a decision that the city of Glendale is going to have to make,'' Bettman said.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

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