Deadline looms for bids in sale of Coyotes

Fri Jun 26, 2009 1:28pm EDT
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By Phil Wahba

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Research in Motion's co-chief executive James Balsillie may find out on Friday how serious his competition is for the National Hockey League's Phoenix Coyotes, which he wants to buy and move to Canada, if the owner of two U.S. sports teams bids on the bankrupt team.

Jerry Reinsdorf, owner of baseball's Chicago White Sox and basketball's Chicago Bulls and a part-time Arizona resident, is expected to submit an offer for the Coyotes.

Today is the deadline for submitting bids for an August 5 auction limited to bidders planning to keep the team in Arizona. If that auction fails, a second auction open to other bidders including Balsillie, would be held on September 10.

The NHL previously said there were four potential bidders who would keep the Coyotes, which are partly owned and coached by all-time NHL scoring leader Wayne Gretzky, in Arizona.

Balsillie offered to buy the team for $212.5 million when it filed for bankruptcy protection in May, on condition he be able to relocate the franchise to southern Ontario.

Balsillie failed in previous efforts to buy NHL teams in Pittsburgh and Nashville and move them to Hamilton, Ontario.

The case is: in Re: Dewey Ranch Hockey LLC, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Arizona, No. 09-09488.

(Reporting by Phil Wahba, additional reporting by Ben Klayman in Chicago)