Sports Leagues Say Coyotes Bankruptcy May Disrupt Business

The Phoenix Coyotes bankruptcy may set a legal precedent that would “disrupt the business” of major league baseball, basketball and football, officials from all three sports said in court papers.

The National Football League, the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball filed papers supporting the position of National Hockey League in the Coyotes bankruptcy case. The NHL opposes efforts by the Coyote’s owner to sell the franchise and allow it to move out of Phoenix without permission from other team owners.

“It is of fundamental importance for any sports league to determine the identity of its members and to select the locations in which its member teams will play,” attorneys for the NBA said in court papers filed yesterday in Phoenix.

The judge overseeing the Coyotes bankruptcy is scheduled to decide today whether the NHL or owner Jerry Moyes should have day-to-day control of the team. The NHL says Moyes lost control last year when the league was forced to advance the team money to keep operating.

Should U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Redfield T. Baum leave Moyes in charge, the judge would need to decide whether to approve the Coyotes’ proposed auction, in which Jim Balsillie, co-chief executive officer of Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM), would be the lead bidder.

Balsillie has said that if he wins the auction he will move the team to Southern Ontario.

The case is Dewey Ranch Hockey, LLC, 09-09488, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Arizona (Phoenix).

To contact the reporter on this story: Steven Church in Phoenix at schurch3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Rovella at drovella@bloomberg.net.

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