A Vancouver Islander, who says becoming an NHL owner is a dream come true, is one of the new owners of the Phoenix Coyotes.
Bill Dutton is among the 10 buyers in the Renaissance Sports and Entertainment Group chipping in — chip being a relative term at this financial level — to purchase the struggling Coyotes.
“It’s kind of a bucket list thing,” said Dutton, who divides his time between Qualicum Beach and Scottsdale, Ariz.
Dutton would not divulge how much money is involved but said “all 10 of us are in about equally.”
The last known price for the team was the cut-rate $140 million the NHL paid for it in 2009 as a last-ditch effort to keep alive its vision of major league hockey in the desert.
The 80-year-old Dutton is no stranger to turning around the fortunes of sports enterprises.
He made his money in Prairie oil before coming to the Island in 1995 to buy the Pheasant Glen Golf Resort in Qualicum Beach, which was in receivership at the time.
“We did a lot of work on it and rebuilt it into a championship course that just recently hosted the Canadian mid-amateur and world long-drive championships,” said Dutton, who is chairman of Pheasant Glen.
Why step into the Coyotes mess?
Because hockey runs through his veins, Dutton said.
“And there is nothing better than watching hockey one night and going golfing the next morning,” he said of wintering in Arizona.
But this isn’t a guy who has always watched the game from the luxury of an owner’s box.
“I was president, manager, scout, bus driver and skate sharpener for the Estevan Bruins [of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League] on a minimum budget,” Dutton said with a chuckle.
“You pitched in and did what needed to be done.”
In a sense, he’s still just pitching in, only with higher stakes, and on the biggest hockey stage of all.
Glendale, Ariz., city council voted 4-3 on July 2 to approve the Renaissance group’s multimillion-dollar, 15-year lease deal in conjunction with the city-owned Jobing.com Arena to keep the Coyotes in the city.
The deal still needs approval from the NHL board of governors, which is not seen as a hurdle.
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