PHOENIX-An election count is going on in Florida, one that local developer Steve Ellman hopes won’t be subject to interminable recounts.

Phoenix-based entrepreneur and developer Steve Ellman and hockey legend Wayne Gretzky today meet with the National Hockey League leadership in a Florida hotel to determine if their $87-million purchase proposal for the Phoenix Coyotes will be approved. The two have to convince the ownership group that they have the financial clout to complete the purchase and manage the team.

The 30 NHL owners are expected to unanimously approve the purchase.

If the sale is consummated, then Ellman is expected to move forward with the $575-million redevelopment of an aging mall in south Scottsdale that will be the site of a 17,500-seat ice hockey arena. Demolition of the mall is about one-third completed, but halted in September when it became evident that new construction wouldn’t begin this fall. Fighting between Ellman and the city of Scottsdale over Ellman’s refusal to turn over sensitive financial documents led to the delay. Scottsdale will be investing as much as $100 million into the project in the form of tax abatement.

“It stopped because we wanted to see where we are going with our redevelopment,” says Ellman SVP Bob Kaufman.

In October, when negotiations with Scottsdale reached their bottom, Ellman began looking for other areas of the Valley to build an arena. Sites in Tempe, the West Valley and on the Salt River Pima Maricopa reservation were postulated. Ellman could also move the team out of Phoenix altogether; Portland and Houston are both eager to have a team.

The ice hockey arena would anchor the $575-million redevelopment of the former Los Arcos Mall, at the southeast corner of McDowell and Scottsdale roads. The project would features hundreds of thousands of square feet of retail and office space, along with movie theaters and a condominium project.

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