The Hockey News - Money & Power
THE PAST TWO decades have been marked by organizational and financial tumult for the Arizona Coyotes. Repeated changes in ownership, a tenuous relationship with Glendale city council and seemingly neverending threats of relocation have all contributed to a lackluster on-ice product.
So when Andrew Barroway, a Philadelphia-born investment and hedge-fund manager, decided during the summer of 2017 to take full ownership of the muddling franchise, the news was met with a sense of cautious optimism.
Part of the reason for that optimism was that Barroway was already a familiar face in the desert. In October 2014, he purchased a majority interest (51 percent) in the Coyotes from IceArizona Acquisition Co. LLC, a consortium of Canadian businessmen who had taken control of the franchise from the NHL the previous summer.
Despite concerns about the Coyotes’ future in the desert, particularly because of a lack of a viable plan to build a new arena, Barroway, 52, has repeatedly chafed at the possibility that the franchise would leave the state the franchise has called home since departing Winnipeg in 1996. “Let’s put this to bed, we’re not relocating,” said Barroway publicly last year.
Another reason for careful optimism was because Barroway indicated that he wanted to make the Coyotes part of his family’s legacy. Last year, he specifically said he looked forward to the time when he could pass the franchise’s reigns over to his son Jake. “I have no exit strategy here. I’m in this for life, and then my son is going to school to be the future governor of this team. This is a family thing. This will be passed down through our family for generations.”
Indeed, owning a professional sports franchise has been a life-long ambition for Barroway. He says he remembers being a six-year-old boy and telling his father that he wanted to one day own the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles.
Although that dream has yet to come to fruition, he has made efforts to get into the ownership game before. In 2014, for example, Barroway tried to buy the New York Islanders from Charles Wang but was ultimately rebuffed.
While sports and family have seemingly long been intertwined for Barroway, a key product of his takeover of full ownership of the franchise has been about making the Coyotes a more active part of the local community. One of his favorite things to do on game days is to sign pucks for young Coyotes fans between periods. “Engagement in the Arizona community is an important reason why I am the owner of the Coyotes,” Barroway said.
Another source of great pride, he says, is the fact the Coyotes franchise contributed about $2.7 million to community organizations last year.
For a franchise that has long been considered as one of the league’s most unstable, it appeared as though Barroway’s rebuild of the Coyotes, both on the ice and off, was finally beginning to turn a corner.
That was, of course, until rumors began circulating this past summer that Barroway was looking for an infusion of cash – and that he was willing to sell a portion of the franchise to get it. A report by Forbes indicated that Barroway was looking to sell 49 percent of the Coyotes at a franchise valuation of $500 million. In November, it was reported a deal with one or more parties was close.
Although Barroway did not address these rumors in the production of this story, there have been concerns raised by insiders who follow the club that Barroway’s net worth is not sufficient to shoulder the
burden of the Coyotes’ cash flow issues on his own.
The long-term profitability of the club will unquestionably require a turnaround on the ice – the Coyotes have missed the playoffs the past six seasons and have won only three rounds since moving to Arizona in 1996-97.
For now, however, Barroway reiterates a phrase he has employed many times over the past few years: “Failure is not an option and we’re going to keep doing it until we get it right.” – BRENT JOLLY