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Balsillie (RIM guy) buys the Preds...(conditionally)

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  • Balsillie (RIM guy) buys the Preds...(conditionally)

    Balsillie attempting to buy Predators

    Darren Dreger and Bob McKenzie

    5/23/2007 9:33:02 PM

    Jim Balsillie is at it again.

    After a failed bid to purchase the Pittsburgh Penguins, sources tell TSN the co-chief and executive officer of Research In Motion has an agreement in place to purchase the Nashville Predators.

    The transaction is subject to league approval and that may take some time sources suggest weeks as opposed to days and it remains to be seen whether that approval will be granted.

    Balsillie's proposed deal to purchase the Penguins fell apart in large part because of conditions set by the NHL. That was because the NHL believed strongly in Pittsburgh as an NHL market and did not want Balsillie buying and moving the team. It's no secret Balsillie would like to put a second NHL franchise in southern Ontario, either in Hamilton or the Kitchener-Waterloo region. Whether the league would look more favorably on a relocating of the Predators remains to be seen, but serious questions about the long-term viability of the Nashville market have been raised this season.

    Current Predators owner Craig Leipold met with the NHL's executive committee on Wednesday to advise them of the agreement to sell the team to Balsillie. He then informed Predators employees of the pending sale. Leipold is expected to address the media Thursday afternoon in Nashville.

    For the moment, neither Balsillie nor the Nashville Predators are prepared to comment. Nashville media outlets are reporting a news conference is scheduled for Thursday

    "The issue is there are still many people out there that use religion as a crutch for bigotry and hate. Like Ben."
    Ben Kenobi: "That means I'm doing something right. "

  • #2
    I still have my doubts about the viability of another team in Southern Ontario, but getting one out of Nashville gets a big
    "The French caused the war [Persian Gulf war, 1991]" - Ned
    "you people who bash Bush have no appreciation for one of the great presidents in our history." - Ned
    "I wish I had gay sex in the boy scouts" - Dissident


    • #3

      Brunt: The song is over in Music City USA

      So once again, the hearts of Canadian hockey fans are set aflutter.

      Not just because the Ottawa Senators may be on the verge of returning the Stanley Cup to this country for the first time since 1993, but also because it appears that BlackBerry tycoon and favourite son Jim Balsillie has finally bought himself a National Hockey League team, the Nashville Predators.

      The report is that Balsillie will pay in the neighbourhood of $200-million (U.S.) for the Preds, though indications are details of the purchase remain to be resolved, and the agreement right now is in the form of a letter of intent.

      That was the case once before, of course, when Balsillie's deal to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins fell apart at the 11th hour over conditions imposed by the NHL that would have made the franchise almost impossible to move.

      Two conclusions were widely drawn that day: The NHL had alienated an extremely rich guy who loves the game, hardly a good idea in the current environment; and Balsillie's intention all along had been to buy the Pens and then move them to Canada, perhaps close to his home base in Waterloo, Ont.

      The first assumption was obviously wrong. Whatever the angry rhetoric at the time, Gary Bettman and company seem to have quietly kept Balsillie in the loop, understanding that while the Pittsburgh situation was eventually, happily resolved, other franchises were in dire straits.

      As for the second well, let's see.

      Before speculating about Southern Ontario or Winnipeg (where they've been keeping a very close eye on the Preds situation these past few months and where local business leaders have been treated very kindly by the NHL hierarchy), it's probably best that everyone keep their powder dry and look at just what it is Balsillie has bought.

      This was always going to be a make-or-break season for NHL hockey in Nashville one of those expansion sites from the time when the NHL was aggressively trying to expand its footprint and to peddle as many franchises as possible. After a very good regular season, and the high-risk trade for Peter Forsberg, the Predators entered the playoffs knowing a long postseason run might finally inspire the support of fans and local business community.

      Failure would probably end the great hockey experiment in Music City USA.

      The Predators flopped, losing in the first round, and attention immediately turned to the club's lease in what is now known as after a naming rights deal announced last week the Sommet Center.

      Under the club's 30-year lease with the city, its owner could walk away if average attendance in consecutive seasons after the club's fifth year in the league dropped below 14,000 a game.

      This past year, the Predators fell just short, attracting 13,815 a game. Coupled with the 11,350 average they drew in the 2003-04 season (the lockout year and the year after were excluded from the calculation under the terms of the lease), that meant by exercising their option within 60 days of the final game of the season, the Predators could relocate.

      That hasn't happened yet. The deadline is June 19, by which time Balsillie's deal will almost certainly not be completed. So it would be up to the current owner to pull the plug and even if the owner does, the city would retain the option to guarantee a 14,000 average for next season by buying unsold tickets and thus closing the escape route.

      So they're not free and clear, at least not yet (though there is considerable local political resistance in Nashville to the idea of buying tickets to directly subsidize the franchise). Then there are the same issues that came up when Balsillie was trying to buy the Penguins. Is the new arena in Winnipeg really big enough for an NHL team? Is there a way of getting around Toronto and Buffalo's territorial claims in the Golden Horseshoe? How much would it cost to buy one or both of them off?

      Big hurdles, all of them.

      But consider this.

      The NHL surely understands Balsillie's intentions by now and has continued to dance with him. The league knows they've got several problems that need to be solved, and as of this moment, there is only one other American market (Kansas City) ready and waiting for a team, with an owner in place.

      And with the Canadian dollar floating above 90 cents, the business of NHL hockey may well make more sense here right now than it does in the United States. You can make a sound, bottom-line case (rather than simply a romantic, cultural one) that another team could prosper here.

      For Gary Bettman, imminent franchise relocation is probably not the story he'd choose to have hovering over the Stanley Cup final.

      But it could be worse. Better this than talking about the league's great partners at NBC.
      "The issue is there are still many people out there that use religion as a crutch for bigotry and hate. Like Ben."
      Ben Kenobi: "That means I'm doing something right. "


      • #4
        Originally posted by Kontiki
        I still have my doubts about the viability of another team in Southern Ontario, but getting one out of Nashville gets a big

        I think the NHL's return to Winnipeg would be far more viable, but I'm not that picky.
        "My nation is the world, and my religion is to do good." --Thomas Paine
        "The subject of onanism is inexhaustable." --Sigmund Freud


        • #5
          So "Bals" is his hockey nickname? Stephen Colbert would approve.
          Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. - Ben Franklin
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