Arizona city guarantees league $25 million to keep Coyotes

PHOENIX (Reuters) - The city of Glendale on Tuesday agreed to guarantee the National Hockey League up to $25 million to keep the Phoenix Coyotes in the city for the next season.

By a unanimous vote, the Glendale City Council approved the agreement that would come into effect if no buyer can be found for the financially struggling franchise by September.

The NHL bought the Coyotes last November.

City officials said that separate negotiations continue with two groups, Chicago sports figure Jerry Reinsdorf and Ice Age Holdings, to buy the team and that they anticipate an agreement by the end of June.

The NHL's board of governors would then have to approve a new owner.

Bill Daly, NHL deputy commissioner, told the Glendale council that he expected the team will be sold in the near future.

"This is nothing more than an insurance policy," he assured the Glendale council. "We feel confident an ownership transaction can happen."

The future of the Coyotes has been in limbo since its previous owner filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May 2009. On November 2, a U.S. bankruptcy judge approved the team's sale to the NHL for $140 million.

The Coyotes have never made money since moving to the Glendale from Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1996.

(Reporting by David Schwartz; writing by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)