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NHL sells Phoenix Coyotes, team to stay in Arizona

By Tim Gaynor

PHOENIX (Reuters) - The National Hockey League sold the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday to a group of investors headed by Canadian businessmen George Gosbee and Anthony LeBlanc, successfully ending a four-year search for a new owner who would keep the team in Arizona.

The transaction, which closed on Monday, was approved by the NHL's board of governors - terminating the League's ownership of the Glendale-based team they bought out of bankruptcy in 2009 for $140 million.

"The National Hockey League believes in Arizona as an NHL market and that these new owners can provide the Coyotes the opportunity to secure a stable, long-term future in Glendale," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.

"We are extremely pleased that a positive resolution has been achieved for the fans, the city, the Coyotes and the League," he added.

The NHL had resisted relocating the franchise from its base at the Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, in the west of the metro Phoenix area, but attempts to find a buyer had repeatedly hit roadblocks or fallen through.

The terms of the sale were not disclosed, but ESPN.com pegged it at $170 million. The new owners had previously reached a 15-year, $225 million leasing agreement with Glendale to keep the team at the arena, where it has played since 2003.

"The Coyotes are here to stay and we will continue to work hard on and off the ice and have a strong presence in our community," LeBlanc, who will serve as chief executive officer, said in a statement.

(Additional reporting by David Schwartz; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Cynthia Osterman)

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