By David Schwartz
PHOENIX (Reuters) - Lawyers for the National Hockey League's Arizona Coyotes went to court on Friday to fight a decision by Glendale city leaders to end the franchise’s arena lease, the team said.
Team officials are seeking a restraining order in Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix to try to block the decision made by the Glendale City Council this week.
"The Arizona Coyotes have acted to defend their rights and reaffirm their continuing commitment to their great fans,” officials said in statement.
The team said in the statement that the legal action was needed to “stop the City of Glendale's baseless attack on, and improper attempt to void, the Coyotes' lawful and proper lease.”
On Wednesday, the council voted 5-2 to terminate the team’s lease at the Gila River Arena, citing a law that bars city employees from being a part of contract negotiations and later working for the other side. No specific individual was cited.
“We can’t and won’t support a contract that favored the sports team over the interests of Glendale citizens,” Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers said in a statement, adding that efforts to renegotiate the pact were rejected by the team.
Meanwhile, the city said it would hold a closed-door executive session on Tuesday following a possible breakthrough in the dispute.
“An opportunity for the two of us to discuss the issues has presented itself, and I am optimistic that with continued dialogue we can come to an agreement that satisfies both parties,” Weiers said.
A spokeswoman could not elaborate on the details. The city has yet to send a required letter to the Coyotes making formal the City Council’s decision.
Coyotes officials have blasted the council’s decision, which could oust the team from its suburban Phoenix home, ending a 15-year, $225 million agreement signed in 2013.
The deal was signed several months after the team was purchased from the NHL by IceArizona, a group of business executives. A hedge fund manager bought 51 percent of the team last year.
The City Council's decision poses yet another question for a franchise that has been on shaky financial footing since it arrived in 1996, with almost constant rumors that the team would leave Arizona.
(Reporting by David Schwartz; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Beech)