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PHOENIX (Reuters) - A $197 million deal to help keep the Phoenix Coyotes in suburban Phoenix has won Glendale city council approval.
The agreement, approved in a 5-2 vote late on Tuesday, will require the city to pay prospective team buyer Matthew Hulsizer $100 million in the next few weeks so he can purchase the Coyotes from the NHL, the league said on its website (www.nhl.com).
Hulsizer, who wants to keep the struggling franchise in Arizona, also would be paid $97 million over the next five and a half years to manage events at the arena.
"We're very pleased that this difficult process that we've been engaged in the last two years is finally coming to a conclusion," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said.
The league bought the team for $140 million in October 2009 after former owner Jerry Moyes filed for bankruptcy.
It fought off a hostile bid by Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie, the co-chief executive of BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd, to move the team to Southern Ontario.
"As always, we seek to make relocation an absolute last resort," said Bettman, who attended Tuesday's meeting. "We believe that that Coyotes and NHL hockey can be successful in Glendale.
He promised the Coyotes will host an All-Star Game within three years - mostly likely in 2013.
Hulsizer, a Chicago financier who dreamed of being a hockey player while growing up, is expected to pay about $170 million for the team.
He said earlier this month he did not expect to make money for "quite a while."
"We need to do a lot of work and we need to make a lot of investment to make this thing successful and we expect to do that," he said on Tuesday.
Writing by Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina, Editing by Justin Palmer