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  #381  
Old Posted May 7, 2009, 9:12 PM
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Balsillie eyes Hamilton arena for 7th Canadian NHL team

CBC Sports
http://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/stor...lie-mayor.html

The same day the NHL challenged the Phoenix Coyotes in bankruptcy court, Canadian millionaire Jim Balsillie was preparing for a seventh NHL franchise in southern Ontario.

Representatives of the man behind the BlackBerry mobile device met with Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger Thursday to discuss a deal for the city's Copps Coliseum. Balsillie, co-CEO of Waterloo-based Research In Motion, is eyeing the arena as a potential new home for the Coyotes should his offer to buy the team be approved.

The 48-year-old Balsillie announced Tuesday that he offered more than $200 US million to purchase the struggling Coyotes on condition that he can move the team to southern Ontario.

It's a plan NHL commissioner Gary Bettman doesn't support because he believes the Coyotes can survive in Phoenix under new management.

The NHL will appear in a Phoenix, Ariz., court Thursday afternoon to challenge whether Coyotes majority owner Jerry Moyes had the authority to seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for the team.

The league's Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement Tuesday that Moyes had been removed "from all positions of authority to act for or on behalf of the club."

Eisenberger says Hamilton is interested in a long-term agreement with Balsillie in exchange for exclusive hockey use of the arena.

During a press conference Thursday, the mayor noted Copps was built with an NHL team in mind. Eisenberger said a plan is in place to renovate the arena to be ready for an NHL team "within a matter of months" if the deal should go through.

The mayor says Copps needs upgrades that would cost approximately $100 million, and it would be up to Balsillie to front the money.

Balsillie, who has tried to buy NHL franchises and move them to Canada on two other occasions, previously said he was prepared to spend up to $160 million to revamp Copps Coliseum as a long-term project.

Eisenberger says he expects to come up with a preliminary agreement to present to city council within the next couple of weeks.
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  #382  
Old Posted May 7, 2009, 9:17 PM
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From Saskatoon: I Hope you guys land a franchise.

Then they can move Atlanta, Tampa, Flordia and Nashville to Quebec City, Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Seattle.
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  #383  
Old Posted May 8, 2009, 9:37 AM
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A couple of the articles out today suggest that members of Hamilton city council are deliberately stalling reaching an agreement with Jim Balsillie because Tom Gagliardi (Vancouver-based hotel guy who previously tried to buy the Canucks) is now in the fold to whatever degree.

If this is true, it sounds like there is a potential for a terrible outcome. Councillors may have a responsibility to entertain any and all offers, but Jim has demonstrated unwavering loyalty to Hamilton for six or seven years and has made a real dogged effort to get a team into town --- my understanding is that the guy has a real soft spot for "The Hammer". I cannot imagine that Gagliardi has anywhere near the same level of devotion to this place and my guess is that he is probably just kicking the tires. I really hope that councillors do not tick Balsillie off by getting baselessly greedy. He still seems to be our best hope for a team by far and I seriously doubt that anybody else would put forth anywhere near as much effort into placing a team into Hamilton on a permanent basis.

Councillors: Let's not tick Jim Balsillie off. Please.
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  #384  
Old Posted May 8, 2009, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by BCTed View Post
A couple of the articles out today suggest that members of Hamilton city council are deliberately stalling reaching an agreement with Jim Balsillie because Tom Gagliardi (Vancouver-based hotel guy who previously tried to buy the Canucks) is now in the fold to whatever degree.

If this is true, it sounds like there is a potential for a terrible outcome. Councillors may have a responsibility to entertain any and all offers, but Jim has demonstrated unwavering loyalty to Hamilton for six or seven years and has made a real dogged effort to get a team into town --- my understanding is that the guy has a real soft spot for "The Hammer". I cannot imagine that Gagliardi has anywhere near the same level of devotion to this place and my guess is that he is probably just kicking the tires. I really hope that councillors do not tick Balsillie off by getting baselessly greedy. He still seems to be our best hope for a team by far and I seriously doubt that anybody else would put forth anywhere near as much effort into placing a team into Hamilton on a permanent basis.

Councillors: Let's not tick Jim Balsillie off. Please.
I agree with BCTed on this one.
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  #385  
Old Posted May 8, 2009, 1:45 PM
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Big bucks, upgrades, naming rights on table

May 08, 2009
Andrew Dreschel
The Hamilton Spectator
http://www.thespec.com/Opinions/article/562369

Mayor Fred Eisenberger struck all the right notes at yesterday's media conference following his meeting with Jim Balsillie's legal team to discuss bringing an NHL team to Copps Coliseum.

Flanked by a posse of solemn-faced councillors -- who mentally must have been skipping with glee over the city's looming good fortune -- Eisenberger declined to supply any details of the proposed agreement until it has been vetted by the city's legal eagles and number crunchers.

But he positioned Hamilton as a great hockey market, touched on the economic benefits of a franchise, and thanked both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Premier Dalton McGuinty for their support.

He also assured Hamiltonians the city will not consider striking a deal with Balsillie that could see Copps being used as a temporary rink until a new arena is built elsewhere.

The only off note concerned timelines.

Eisenberger says it will take up to two weeks before the agreement goes before council for a ratification vote.

That's curious since he also admitted that the basis for the agreement is the 2007 deal they struck with Balsillie.

Presumably, there will be some new wrinkles in the latest terms and conditions, but there's no reason to believe dramatic changes are being proposed.

To refresh your memory, here are some of the things both parties agreed to the last time Balsillie came courting.

Besides exclusive hockey rights to Copps, the BlackBerry billionaire also wanted to run all the city-owned venues connected with Hamilton Entertainment and Conventions Facilities Inc. (HECFI).

The city would retain ownership of Copps, Hamilton Place and the convention centre, but Balsillie would operate and manage them.

The Copps portion of the 2007 deal reportedly mirrored key points in the agreement the city first negotiated with Balsillie way back in 2004 and then extended in 2006.

At that time, they agreed that if Balsillie snared a National Hockey League team, he would lease Copps from the city for $2 million a year. In exchange, he would receive all direct revenue and pay all operating expenses.

Balsillie would have the right to alter the name of the arena, provided "Victor K. Copps" was included in the new name.

He would bankroll necessary upgrades and the expansion of corporate boxes or suites to bring the 17,500-set arena up to modern NHL standards.

And Balsillie would be responsible for all other leasehold improvements, including the concession facilities, scoreboard and sound system.

The city agreed, among other things, to provide Balsillie with 650 free parking spaces at the convention centre during events at Copps.

But it reserved the right to use Copps up to 12 days a year for community events.

Again, it's a safe bet there will be some stretching and massaging, but surely the heavy lifting has already been done.

So why the delay in putting the latest offer in front of the NHL steering committee and council?

Barring some radical new language, there can only be one answer.

The city is deliberately stalling to see what happens with the other, as yet unnamed, hockey group that is apparently interested in sewing up Copps.

After being a wallflower for decades, we're suddenly enjoying a flirtation with two cow-eyed suitors.
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  #386  
Old Posted May 8, 2009, 1:46 PM
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Long-term Copps lease on tap: mayor

May 08, 2009
Ken Peters
The Hamilton Spectator
http://www.thespec.com/News/Local/article/562444

Prospective National Hockey League franchise owner Jim Balsillie wants to lock up Hamilton's Copps Coliseum in a lease pact the city promises would be permanent.

Representatives of Balsillie's hockey project met in secret yesterday with Mayor Fred Eisenberger and city officials to advise them of their interest in securing the exclusive NHL hockey rights for the 24-year-old arena.

"The Balsillie group is asking the city to consider entering into an agreement," Eisenberger said, adding the city's legal and finance staff are working on the pact, which is similar to one Balsillie and the city approved two years ago. That pact, which would have provided Copps Coliseum as the new home of the relocated Nashville Predators, expired a year ago.

"There is clearly an interest in hockey in Hamilton on behalf of Mr. Balsillie," Eisenberger said. "He has pursued us before and is pursuing us again. There is a great opportunity here and we're very receptive to it. I think there is a real buzz in our town about the potential of this."

Eisenberger told a hastily arranged media conference at the Art Gallery of Hamilton that Balsillie's bid to purchase the bankrupt Phoenix Coyotes and move the club to Steeltown represents Hamilton's best chance to date to fulfil the 50-year-old dream of bringing an NHL to the city.

"I would say yes. Certainly the structure of the National Hockey League right now with seven or eight teams losing substantial amounts of money certainly bodes well for a potential franchise in Hamilton that could make money. I would say the opportunity is good. I would still characterize it was cautiously optimistic that this can happen."

The mayor hopes to present a tentative arena deal to city council within two weeks.

"The previous agreement forms the basis of the discussions we're having now. Once we have a clear picture of what both parties have agreed to, we'll be able to share with you some details of that agreement," Eisenberger said.

He would not say whether the proposed lease turns over the operation of Hamilton Place and the Hamilton Convention Centre to the Balsillie group, a clause that was part of the original deal.

Eisenberger stressed that the city lease pact will not be temporary but be designed to provide Copps Coliseum as the permanent home of a Balsillie-owned franchise.

"I can assure you that our agreement will look for permanent residency in the City of Hamilton for a NHL franchise," Eisenberger said, adding a temporary lease is not something the city would consider.

The Hamilton mayor, who skirted any comments about Balsillie's court challenges and battles with the NHL commissioner over his franchise relocation efforts, stressed Hamilton is "ready, willing and able" with a facility to become home to a second southern Ontario team.

And Eisenberger confirmed that the city has had talks with a second group that is also interested in bringing a NHL team here.

But the mayor said he has no plans to meet with the "second suitor' at this point.

"There is another suitor and they have interest and we'll explore that to the degree that we can in the next days to come."
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  #387  
Old Posted May 8, 2009, 4:27 PM
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I agree that it wouldn't be good to piss off Balsillie since he's been committed to Hamilton and he can really help the city in more ways than just getting us an NHL team.

However, I really don't see the Coyotes coming here and I'm very doubtful that JB will ever get a team now. I'd hate for Hamilton to turn away other potential investors only to be waiting for JB to get a team that will never come.

The city is in a tough spot and I'd love to welcome ALL potential investors here.
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  #388  
Old Posted May 8, 2009, 4:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Berklon View Post
I agree that it wouldn't be good to piss off Balsillie since he's been committed to Hamilton and he can really help the city in more ways than just getting us an NHL team.

However, I really don't see the Coyotes coming here and I'm very doubtful that JB will ever get a team now. I'd hate for Hamilton to turn away other potential investors only to be waiting for JB to get a team that will never come.

The city is in a tough spot and I'd love to welcome ALL potential investors here.
Don't have to turn them away. Talk to any shadow suitors but only in general terms. Tell them the city will talk seriously once they step into the buying arena.

Hamilton is in a pretty good position with any NHL buyer.
1. We have an arena for all intents and purposes that's ready to go.
and
2. We have a large enough fan base and market that is ready to go.

There is probably no other city in N. America that has that going for it, no Quebec, not Winnipeg, not any other city.
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  #389  
Old Posted May 8, 2009, 4:40 PM
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Kansas City has the arena. I don't think it has the fans, but try telling that to Bettman.


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  #390  
Old Posted May 8, 2009, 10:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Berklon View Post
I agree that it wouldn't be good to piss off Balsillie since he's been committed to Hamilton and he can really help the city in more ways than just getting us an NHL team.

However, I really don't see the Coyotes coming here and I'm very doubtful that JB will ever get a team now. I'd hate for Hamilton to turn away other potential investors only to be waiting for JB to get a team that will never come.

The city is in a tough spot and I'd love to welcome ALL potential investors here.

It is only sensible that you hear everyone out, but I believe that in this case, it is much better the guy you do know than the guy you don't. I doubt that anyone would be any more successful in getting a hockey team to Hamilton than JB and I really doubt that anyone else would try anywhere near as hard.

Jim Balsillie has been trying to get Hamilton a hockey team for at least six years and has clearly put a ton of resources behind his efforts --- Hamilton has been his play all along. Tom Gagliardi may be doing nothing more than kicking the tires and he has no special devotion to Hamilton ---- he tried to buy the Canucks a few years ago (not to move to Hamilton, of course) and would potentially leave town on a whim even if he were ever to get a team.
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  #391  
Old Posted May 8, 2009, 10:49 PM
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Mayor to meet with 2nd NHL suitor
Eisenberger expects to sit down before Tuesday

May 08, 2009
Steve Milton
The Hamilton Spectator
http://www.thespec.com/News/Local/article/562445

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger says he expects to meet with the second group of NHL hockey suitors in the next few days.

The mayor told thespec.com that the meeting should take place before Tuesday. On Thursday, he said he had no plans to meet with the mystery group. City officials are keeping the identity of the would-be owner or owners under tight wraps. They’ve only said they come with solid NHL credentials.

A bid may come from Tom Gagliardi, a Vancouver hotel executive who tried unsuccessfully to buy the Vancouver Canucks in 2004.

Lawyer Richard Rodier doesn't know if Hamilton is one inch closer to the NHL today than it was before a critical bankruptcy case opened here yesterday.

But he is certain his client, Research In Motion boss Jim Balsillie, could get a Hamilton team into Copps Coliseum and ready for the NHL in time for opening night this October.

NHL lawyers said yesterday, during the first afternoon of the Phoenix Coyotes' Chapter 11 bankruptcy case, they’ll argue when full hearings resume in two weeks that the Coyotes could not be sold and moved elsewhere in time for the end of the calendar year, let alone the opening of the season.

"Everyone has their own opinion," Rodier said of NHL lawyer Tony Clark's statement. "And he's an advocate for the NHL."

Rodier was asked if Balsillie could shift the team and have it operational in Hamilton by the fall, even if he doesn't find out whether he owns the team until late June, after a proposed auction of the team by the bankruptcy.

"Sure," he said, without pausing. "Sure."

Bill Walker, a spokesperson for Balsillie, said last night in Toronto that his client is negotiating to secure a lease option for Copps Coliseum from the city by May 13.

He couldn't be specific on why that date is being sought, but said his client wants it done ahead of time if he is successful in getting the Coyotes. The Balsillie side is proposing that the bankruptcy proceedings and the auction for the team -- which allows other bidders for the team -- end on June 26.

"Obviously, you don't want to find yourself in possession of an NHL franchise and then have to find an arena after the fact," said Walker. "You want to know you at least have a lease option for a place to play."

Hamilton's chamber of commerce today came out in full support of the bid.

“We are more than enthusiastic about the potential for an NHL team in this city, not merely for the transforming effect that it can have to our community, particularly our downtown,” Ruth Liebersbach, president of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, said in a release.

“It just makes sound basic business sense to everyone involved."

The chamber said it plans to contact Balsillie's group to see how it can support the bid. That includes selling tickets and luxury boxes to members.
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  #392  
Old Posted May 9, 2009, 4:44 AM
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Balsillie has a few bucks, obviously. So what if he did something crazy like up the offer closer to $300mil. Ya it's nuts, but so is $213. So what if he did? Or, at what price do you think the NHL would just say "fine, take them"?

Just curious.
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  #393  
Old Posted May 9, 2009, 4:54 AM
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Balsillie has a few bucks, obviously. So what if he did something crazy like up the offer closer to $300mil. Ya it's nuts, but so is $213. So what if he did? Or, at what price do you think the NHL would just say "fine, take them"?

Just curious.
The NHL would prefer to charge a franchise fee, that can be shared with other clubs. They get no money from a straight change of ownership.
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  #394  
Old Posted May 9, 2009, 4:56 AM
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Kansas City has the arena. I don't think it has the fans, but try telling that to Bettman.


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Guaranteed not enough fans. At least not enough to match Hamilton at the gate.
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  #395  
Old Posted May 9, 2009, 11:58 AM
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This was on thestar.com, saying the Vancouver group is looking at moving Atlanta to Hamilton.
http://www.thestar.com/sports/hockey/article/631715


Quote:
HAMILTON SPECTATOR

HAMILTON – A Vancouver-based hockey group is interested in relocating the financially-troubled Atlanta Thrashers to Hamilton, the Spectator has learned.

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger is expected to meet with the second hockey group on Monday.

Eisenberger wouldn't disclose any details of the second group, believed to be led by Vancouver developer Tom Gaglardi, or when the meeting would take place.

But an inside hockey source told the Spectator that Gaglardi is interested in moving the Thrashers to Hamilton, possibly in time for the 2010 season.

Gaglardi heads River City Hockey Inc., a five-man group including NHL stars Jarome Iginla, Mark Recchi, Shane Doan and Darryl Sydor, which purchased the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League in 2007.

A source confirmed this week that Gaglardi, president of Northland Properties, the parent company of Sandman Hotels, is the key principal in the second hockey group interested in Hamilton. Gaglardi failed in his bid to buy the Vancouver Canucks five years ago.

Hamilton is suddenly a hot property for people looking at the possibility that some financially troubled NHL teams may be looking to relocate.

Gaglardi's group is Steeltown's second NHL suitor. There are now rumours of as many as five groups looking at Hamilton and Copps Coliseum for an NHL team.

City staff are already working on a proposed lease of Copps Coliseum to Waterloo billionaire Jim Balsillie, who hopes to buy and relocate the Phoenix Coyotes to the city for the 2009 season.

Balsillie, who has made a $212.5 million (U.S.) offer for the bankrupt Coyotes this week, is battling the NHL for control of the franchise. That battle is currently being waged in a Phoenix courtroom.

Gaglardi has business ties to fellow Vancouver developer Nelson Skalbania, the former owner of the Edmonton Oilers, who was the driving force behind the relocation of the former Atlanta Flames to Calgary. It is unclear whether Skalbania is involved in the possible second relocation of an Atlanta hockey club north of the border.

One source said the Atlanta move to Hamilton would be temporary, possibly to give the group time to relocate the franchise to a more permanent site following the 2010 season.

Gaglardi was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Eisenberger told the Spectator yesterday he expects by Tuesday the city should have a "clear picture" of its NHL strategy. That is one day before a May 13 deadline for sealing a deal to lock up Copps Coliseum requested by Balsillie.

"By next Tuesday we will have a clearer picture of where we are. We're in the middle of discussions with Mr. Balsillie and his group and I will be meeting with the second group. We need to understand their intentions. It's fair to say I will be talking to that second group," Eisenberger said.

A well-placed source in the business community, speaking on condition he not be named, said the frenzied climate around NHL hockey, Hamilton, Toronto and Vaughan has made it impossible to separate legitimate bids from possibilities and mere rumours.

He described five different scenarios that continue to crop up in conversations, though he emphasized there is no way to know how solid some of them are.

"I don't know what's real and not real," the source said.
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  #396  
Old Posted May 9, 2009, 12:05 PM
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NHL suitors lining up
Mayor to meet group wishing to move Atlanta Thrashers

May 09, 2009
Ken Peters and Naomi Powell
The Hamilton Spectator
http://www.thespec.com/News/Local/article/563152

A Vancouver-based hockey group is interested in relocating the financially troubled Atlanta Thrashers to Hamilton, The Spectator has learned.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger is expected to meet with the second hockey group on Monday.

Eisenberger wouldn't disclose any details of the second group, believed to be led by Vancouver developer Tom Gaglardi, or when the meeting would take place.

But an inside hockey source told The Spectator that Gaglardi is interested in moving the Thrashers to Hamilton, possibly in time for the 2010 season.

Gaglardi heads River City Hockey Inc., a group including NHL stars Jerome Iginla, Mark Recchi, Shane Doan and Darryl Sydor, which purchased the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League in 2007.

A source confirmed this week that Gaglardi, president of Northland Properties, the parent company of Sandman Hotels, is the key principal in the second hockey group interested in Hamilton. Gaglardi failed in his bid to buy the Vancouver Canucks five years ago.

Hamilton is suddenly a hot property for people looking at the possibility that some financially troubled NHL teams may be looking to relocate.

Gaglardi's group is Steeltown's second NHL suitor. There are now rumours of as many as five groups looking at Hamilton and Copps Coliseum for an NHL team.

City staff are already working on a proposed lease of Copps Coliseum to Waterloo billionaire Jim Balsillie, who hopes to buy and relocate the Phoenix Coyotes to the city for the 2009 season.

Balsillie, who has made a $212.5-million US offer for the bankrupt Coyotes, is battling the NHL for control of the franchise. That battle is being waged in a Phoenix courtroom.

Gaglardi has business ties to fellow Vancouver developer Nelson Skalbania, the former owner of the Edmonton Oilers, who was the driving force behind the relocation of the former Atlanta Flames to Calgary. It is unclear whether Skalbania is involved in the possible second relocation of an Atlanta hockey club north of the border.

One source said the Atlanta move to Hamilton would be permanent.

Gaglardi was unavailable for comment yesterday.

One source revealed that Gaglardi will argue his proposal has more NHL governor support than Balsillie's, which could be a convincing selling point for Hamilton politicians.

Eisenberger told The Spectator yesterday he expects by Tuesday the city should have a "clear picture" of its NHL strategy. That is just one day before a May 13 deadline for sealing a deal to lock up Copps Coliseum requested by Balsillie.

"By next Tuesday we will have a clearer picture of where we are. We're in the middle of discussions with Mr. Balsillie and his group and I will be meeting with the second group. We need to understand their intentions. It's fair to say I will be talking to that second group," Eisenberger said.

The mayor raised some eyebrows this week, however, when he refused to commit to a Balsillie request to have the lease approved by city council by May 13.

"They do have a deadline in mind. I'm not prepared to share with you what it is but they did indicate that end of June is when they expect the court proceeding to wrap up," he said.

But Balsillie spokesperson Bill Walker said his client's representative told the mayor in a Thursday meeting that his client wants a lease pact in place by May 13.

Balsillie is said to be quite upset that Hamilton is considering a second NHL relocation proposal.

There could be conflict next week. Hamilton Councillor Terry Whitehead will convene a meeting Monday morning of the city's NHL subcommittee to hear details from city staff about the proposed lease. Whitehead added the subcommittee may even ask for a Balsillie representative to appear before the group before a lease recommendation heads to city council for final approval.

How that plays with Eisenberger, who has stated publicly that he is the only Hamilton council member who can speak publicly about the Hamilton's NHL pursuits, is unclear.

A well-placed source in the business community, speaking on condition he not be named, said the frenzied climate around NHL hockey, Hamilton, Toronto and Vaughan has made it impossible to separate legitimate bids from possibilities and mere rumours.

He described five scenarios that continue to crop up in conversations, though he emphasized there is no way to know how solid some of them are, especially with many of the potential players simply testing the market before making commitments.

"I don't know what's real and not real," the source said.

Here are five scenarios circulating, in descending order of certainty:

* Jim Balsillie's well-publicized and confirmed bid for the Phoenix Coyotes.

* Property developer Tom Gaglardi leading a group from Vancouver that is coming to Hamilton this weekend in preparation for a Monday meeting with city officials about moving an existing NHL team other than Phoenix to Hamilton.

* A Toronto group offering to pay cash to establish a new NHL franchise in southern Ontario, possibly Vaughan or Hamilton.

* A Toronto group that wants to buy another troubled NHL franchise and move it to Vaughan, possibly setting up temporarily in Hamilton before moving to a new arena there.

* A third Toronto group that would buy and move a team to somewhere in southern Ontario.
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  #397  
Old Posted May 9, 2009, 12:06 PM
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Let them both have a contract with Copps and whoever gets a permanent NHL team to Hamilton first will get the exclusive contract.
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  #398  
Old Posted May 9, 2009, 12:42 PM
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Let them both have a contract with Copps and whoever gets a permanent NHL team to Hamilton first will get the exclusive contract.
That would completely defeat the purpose of signing an exclusivity agreement now.
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  #399  
Old Posted May 9, 2009, 1:13 PM
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I love that the shit is being stirred up right now... and with help from the media, it's happening in public. This is a PR disaster for the NHL - and rightfully so. I'm just waiting for the other shoe to drop with MLSE finally showing where they stand in this whole thing (obviously against it).

The backlash to MLSE and the NHL will be big.
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  #400  
Old Posted May 9, 2009, 4:31 PM
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I'd give Balsillie exclusive contract for Copps but have the contract expire around October 2009, after 2009 NHL season begun. No NHL at Copps for 2009 than exlusive contract for Balsillie ends.
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