PHOENIX (AP) -Talks between Ice Edge Holdings and the city of Glendale on a new lease agreement for the Phoenix Coyotes are not dead but "probably more like taking a nap," a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
The person, who asked for anonymity because of the private nature of the situation, told the AP that the city was focusing on talks with the NHL over the league's request for cash, probably $20 million to $25 million, to cover next season's operating losses while sale of the team is completed.
The matter was on the agenda for the Glendale city council meeting Tuesday night.
Ice Edge, a group of Canadian and U.S. investors, apparently is the last hope for finding a buyer for the Coyotes that would keep the team in Arizona. A group headed by Chicago sports mogul Jerry Reinsdorf reportedly is no longer in the picture.
Talks between Ice Edge and the city on a memorandum of understanding broke down on Monday, leading to widespread speculation that the franchise was headed out of town, with Winnipeg the most likely destination.
The Coyotes were the Winnipeg Jets before they moved to Arizona in 1996.
The departure would leave Glendale with no full-time tenant for Jobing.com Arena, which it built specifically for the Coyotes.
Ice Edge, which says it would buy the team with money from its partners and bank financing, is requiring that any memorandum of understanding it signs give it exclusive rights to negotiate with the city.
Ice Edge chief operating officer Daryl Jones told the Winnipeg Free Press on Monday that talks had hit a snag over the exclusivity issue.
"We were adamant about needing exclusivity in these negotiations and they haven't provided it," Jones told the newspaper. "I'm not totally surprised. We've been dealing with this for a while. We thought we had agreed to certain things and expected them in writing. That didn't materialize."
The person who asked for anonymity told the AP on Tuesday that the exclusivity clause should not be a problem if the two sides resume negotiations.
The NHL purchased the team out of bankruptcy last September with the stated intention of selling it to a buyer who would keep the franchise in Arizona. But the league has said repeatedly that if no local buyer can be found, it would look to find a buyer elsewhere.
The franchise never has turned a profit since moving to Arizona and is expected to lose at least $20 million this year.
Last season began with the team playing in a mostly empty arena, but with the Coyotes' surprising success on the ice, the crowds grew to a rowdy capacity. Phoenix set franchise records for wins and points before being eliminated by Detroit 4-3 in the first round of the NHL playoffs.