Jim Balsillie, the co-chief executive of Canadian smartphone maker Research in Motion, wants to import a hockey team up North.
Balsillie made a $212.5 million offer to buy the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday, following the team's bankruptcy filing, which was announced by the team's owner. The offer is conditional on the team relocating to Southern Ontario, according to a statement.
Balsillie said he has also agreed to post debtor-in-possession financing of $17 million.
In the statement, Balsillie said that the current team ownership asked he table an offer to buy the Coyotes, and that significant discussions resulted in an offer that is in the best interests of the franchise, the National Hockey League, and Canadian hockey fans.
The Phoenix Coyotes filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in United States federal court in Arizona on Tuesday, according to a separate statement from the team's owner Dewey Ranch Hockey.
The bankruptcy filing included a proposed sale of the franchise to Balsillie's PSE Sports & Entertainment, the team said.
The deal is subject to approval by the bankruptcy court, which is expected to hold a hearing within several days to establish a sales procedure that could attract higher bids, according to a statement by Coyotes Hockey.
Overbids must exceed the Balsillie bid by $5 million and be fully funded at closing without a financial contingency.
The process assures that the identities of the new owner and the team's location will be known by June 30, thus enabling the NHL to include the team in its 2009-10 schedule, the statement said.
The Coyotes finished third to last in the NHL's Western division in the 08-09 season with 79 points.
Wayne Gretzky, who became the Coyotes coach in 2005, is the highest scorer in NHL history and is himself a native of Brantford in Southern Ontario
Last year, Balsillie failed in a bid to buy the struggling Nashville Predators and move them to Hamilton, Ontario, a city of about 500,000 between Toronto and Buffalo, N.Y., which have put it in direct market competition for viewers with the Maple Leafs and the Sabres.
Another city that has mentioned in some reports as a candidate is RIM's hometown of Waterloo, about 70 miles West of Toronto.
A spokesman for Balsillie declined to say which Canadian city Balsillie had in mind as the potential new home for the Coyotes.
Mr. Balsillie feels that Southern Ontario has a great hockey tradition and is an underserved market. They are hockey mad people, said spokesman Bill Walker.
Balsillie is co-CEO of Waterloo, Ontario-based Research in Motion Limited, which makes the popular BlackBerry smartphone, a rival to the Apple Inc iPhone.
(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic and Phil Wahba; Editing Bernard Orr)