Steve Ellman’s tenure as governor of the Coyotes will come to an end today when the team announces a change in ownership at a press conference at Glendale Arena, multiple sources close to the team confirmed Wednesday.
Ellman, who headed the group which purchased the Coyotes in 2001, has been working with majority owner Jerry Moyes since late last year on restructuring the ownership of the team as well as Westgate City Center, a 233-acre business and residential development around Glendale Arena.
Sources said the two have come to terms on a deal in which Ellman would assume full control of Westgate, which is two years behind schedule, and Moyes would take over the Coyotes, arena management and the Arizona Sting, a professional indoor lacrosse team.
Moyes is expected to name his personal attorney, Jeff Shumway, chief executive officer. Shumway, a former corporate attorney, would likely take on the title of governor giving him day-to-day control of the Coyotes.
The deal still needs league approval.
When Ellman took over as governor, hockey was in trouble in the Valley. The Coyotes were struggling financially and there was talk the team could move. But Ellman was instrumental in keeping the team here and he improved the finances by moving them out of then-America West Arena and into Glendale Arena, a state-of-the-art facility that was completed in December 2003. He was also responsible for bringing in Wayne Gretzky, giving the franchise an internationally known face.
Moyes is a Glendale resident who is also a limited partner with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He has been a silent partner since joining the ownership group, also in 2001, but played a big role in the team coming to an agreement with the city of Glendale over the arena.
Messages left for Ellman were not returned and Moyes could not be reached for comment, but all indications are the split was amicable.
Last month, Moyes told the Tribune that Ellman, who made his money in real estate, was the one pushing the deal forward.
However, it has been reported that Moyes, a billionaire who made much of his money in the trucking business, has invested more than $240 million in the Coyotes over the past five years, some of that just to cover payroll.
Gretzky, who is the team’s coach and managing partner, is also a part-owner in the Coyotes and Westgate. His holdings aren’t expected to change.