A move toward bankruptcy by the Arizona-based Phoenix Coyotes professional ice hockey team has become a test case for financially troubled professional sports teams and the leagues that oversee them.
Lawyers with global law firm Squire, Sanders & Dempsey L.L.P. represent Coyotes Hockey, LLC on the bankruptcy and related antitrust matters resulting from a dispute between team owner Jerry Moyes and the National Hockey League.
This is believed to be the first time a court will weigh in on whether or not a professional sports league can call the shots on franchise transactions.
“Regardless of the parties, there is a tremendous amount riding on the outcome of these proceedings,” said Thomas J. Salerno, co-leader of the Squire Sanders international insolvency practice. He is advising Coyotes Hockey, LLC, along with bankruptcy partner Jordan Kroop. Corporate partner Christopher D. Johnson is also handling aspects of the case.
Citing ongoing falling revenues and mounting costs, Coyotes Hockey LLC, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on May 5. The team also filed a purchase agreement that would sell the team to a company owned by Jim Balsille, co-founder of Blackberry maker Research In Motion.
If ultimately approved as the highest and best offer, the agreement would result in the team relocating to Canada. The NHL is seeking to block the bankruptcy and proposed sale. The Coyotes, in turn, have brought antitrust claims against the NHL. Squire Sanders trial lawyer George Brandon and Barry A. Pupkin, head of the firm’s antitrust, competition, trade and regulatory practice, represent Coyotes Hockey, LLC, on the antitrust issues.
About Squire Sanders: Founded in 1890, Squire, Sanders & Dempsey L.L.P. has lawyers in 32 offices and 15 countries around the world. With one of the strongest integrated global platforms and a longstanding one-firm philosophy, Squire Sanders provides seamless legal counsel worldwide.
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