Toronto Argonauts co-owners Howard Sokolowski and David Cynamon are investigating the possibility of making a bid for the Phoenix Coyotes and plan to meet with city officials next week, reports the Globe and Mail.
Sokolwski and Cynamon had been associated with Ice Edge Holdings, a group of eight Canadian and U.S. businessmen who have already made a pitch for the Coyotes.
Sources familiar with the bidding say that their involvement with Ice Edge ended several weeks ago.
The pair are currently considering their options and have put together about a dozen financial backers to support their offer, sources said.
Cynamon spoke to the Globe yesterday, and confirmed that he and Sokolowski are putting together their own bid, separate from the Ice Edge proposal. He declined to provide further details.
Daryl Jones, an Ice Edge investor, also declined comment.
It is expected that the NHL will get approval from an Arizona bankruptcy court on Monday to buy the Coyotes and pay creditors about $140-million (U.S.). This would allow the NHL to re-sell the franchise.
Commissioner Gary Bettman had mentioned Sokolowski and Cynamon as potential bidders for the club in an affidavit filed last June, shortly after the Coyotes were put into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Bettman’s filing said that the Toronto-based businessmen, as well as three others, “indicated an interest in operating the franchise in Phoenix.”
This surprised many observers, as it was commonly believed that they would have moved the team to southern Ontario, should their bid be approved.
The two have never commented on Bettman’s affidavit.
Sokolowski and Cynamon met with Jones and other Ice Edge investors during the summer, but sources close to the bid say that the Argonauts owners were never formally members of the bid.
Ice Edge withdrew its bid in September, claiming there was not enough time to negotiate an arena lease.
In June, the Globe and Mail reported that BC Lions owner David Braley had helped broker Sokolowski and Cynamon’s purchase of the Argonauts in 2003.
He also reportedly fronted them half the $2-million necessary to buy the then bankrupt team.
CFL commissioner Mark Cohon, Braley, and the Argonauts all confirmed the report’s findings.
Several media outlets reported in mid-Oct. that the pair were interested in selling the Toronto CFL franchise.
In a statement issued Oct. 14, the Argonauts co-owners said they are “exploring different opportunities and are weighing what is in the best interests of ourselves, our families, and the future of the Toronto Argonauts.”
Many believed that Braley, a native of Hamilton, Ont., would sell the BC Lions and purchase the Argonauts.
“I want to stress that the [Lions are] not for sale,” said Braley in a statement. “I remain the team’s owner, proud of its accomplishments, both on the field and in communities across British Columbia, and dedicated to its future success.”
Sokolowski and Cynamon’s bid for the Phoenix Coyotes is contingent on a number of factors, including the NHL’s ability to purchase the franchise and then re-sell it, finding sufficient financial backing, and out-bidding other potential buyers.