How High Will He Go?
This is Jim Balsillie's trump card. And a measure of how much he wants this to happen.All along, throughout the slow, molasses-like bankruptcy process of finding a new owner for the Phoenix Coyotes, the unsaid issue behind the scene has been Balsillie's deep pockets and the limit, if there is one, to how much he might be willing to pay for the Coyotes in an open auction.
Of the three bidders left, none seem likely to out-bid the Waterloo billionaire on a dollar-to-dollar basis. In theory the NHL could, but there have to be real limitations on the price NHL owners would be willing to pay to buy this team through auction. It's one thing to bid $140 million with the out being selling the team in order to move it elsewhere after one year.But let's say Balsillie, who upped his offer to $242 million last night, would be willing to go as a high as $400 million to get the Yotes and move them to Hamilton. That price might even make sense for a franchise in lucrative southern Ontario, but the NHL would be facing a major loss if it wanted to try and match that offer and later sell the team to Las Vegas or Kansas City or wherever.
Open Ice Holdings, meanwhile, has $150 million on the table, but there are lots of conditions on that, certainly enough that the NHL felt it had to put its own bid in.
So how high would Balsillie be willing to go? Assuming this auction finally goes ahead on Thursday and Friday, we may finally find out. More specifically, we'll find out if he's willing to try to blow any and all other offers out of the water.