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MN GROUP STEPS FORWARD; JETS BID FAREWELL TO WINNIPEG
Published May 5, 1995
Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission Chair Henry Savelkoul will recommend to MN Gov. Arne Carlson and legislative leaders today that the state "should buy an equity stake or 'contract interests'" in the NHL's Jets, according to this morning's Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. The evolving plan is yet to have a dollar amount attached to it. Savelkoul, referring the MN's loss of the Stars to Dallas: "The idea is to buy the wheels off the team." Savelkoul's idea is not to buy a majority interest, but perhaps a "good chunk of voting shares," maybe 20%. He called "premature" any suggestion that as much as $20M is necessary. Savelkoul: "I don't want a number right now. I want to talk about the principle. If the principle is acceptable, is $1 million worth it? Two million dollars?" The Jets are expected to be sold for between $60-70M. If the state did not become an owner, it could buy contractual rights from the new owner. For instance, the new owner would not be allowed to move the team "without onerous liquidated damages." Another component of Savelkoul's plan: Use the NHL team's new tax revenues to help buy new ice rinks statewide, or refurbish the old ones. The new tax revenue created by the team -- about $3.3m annually -- would help fund what is called the "Mighty Ducks Bill" in the MN legislature -- because of the benefits for youth hockey leagues around the state. The issue of helping the Jets "has taken on a sense of urgency because the Legislature' scheduled May 22 adjournment is less than three weeks away" (Weiner & McGrath, Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/5). OFFER ON THE TABLE: The WINNIPEG FREE PRESS is reporting that a group of MN-based businessmen, led by health care entrepreneur Richard Burke, has offered to buy the Jets for a reported $75M, with the purchase partly financed with state government bonds. MN stockbroker Ed Villaume, who reportedly put the deal together, would not comment on specifics (Bruce Owen, WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 5/5). FAREWELL: Jets players, coaches and staff will be at the Winnipeg Arena tomorrow to say goodbye to fans. Wherever the team lands, it won't be called the Jets, as the team plans to retire its logo tomorrow (FREE PRESS, 5/5). IT'S NOT ALL TEARS ACROSS CANADA: EDMONTON JOURNAL columnist Cam Cole: "It could have been us. ... Winnipeg took a bullet for every small-market team in the National Hockey League" (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 5/5). From a CALGARY HERALD editorial: "Rather than filling their arena and making an incontrovertible case for why the Manitoba government should throw significant amounts of tax dollars into keeping the NHL franchise, fans whined and carped about their outmoded ice palace, the team's poor performance and even their unfortunate lot in life" (CALGARY HERALD, 5/5). In Toronto, Gare Joyce writes, "Markets remain constant and a team is only as good as its house" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 5/5). Al Strachan writes, "Don't shed any tears for Barry Shenkarow. He paid nothing for this team, did nothing constructive to guarantee its future and now, between tears, will make a multi-million dollar profit" (TORONTO SUN, 5/5).