SBD/Issue 204/Franchises

Del Biaggio Was Talking Up Predators Move Earlier This Year

Document Shows Predators Minority
Owner Wanted To Relocate Team
Predators Minority Owner William "Boots" Del Biaggio III earlier this year was "signaling to potential investors that the team had 'portability value'" and "selling the idea that the team would fail [in Nashville] and could be moved to another city," according to a confidential document cited by Brad Schrade of the Nashville TENNESSEAN. The document, a computerized presentation, was put together by Del Biaggio's Forecheck Holdings as "part of a marketing effort ... to gain more investors." Forecheck "projected the Preds would not become financially viable ... in which case, the Del Biaggio-led investors could gain majority control, serving their agenda to buy a hockey team and locate it elsewhere, while providing cover" for Predators Owner David Freeman's local ownership group. Freeman last week said that he "was aware Del Biaggio had been trying to get additional investors into the hockey enterprise, but was not aware that Del Biaggio had told potential investors that they could gain control of the team and move it." Freeman told Nashville Mayor Karl Dean the assertions in the document are "false and misleading." Freeman upon reviewing the document added that he "had never seen it and that he was 'surprised but not shocked' at its contents." Freeman: "If you remember, Boots talked quite openly last summer about moving the franchise to [K.C.] if he was the winning bidder. He lost. As we negotiated our partnership agreement with Forecheck, we did so with respectful distrust of his motives. It's why we put so many protections into (the team's) partnership agreement" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 7/13).

TRUTH REVEALED: In Nashville, David Climer writes of Del Biaggio, "The man who once appeared to be a white knight intent on helping rescue a struggling NHL franchise instead was a fraud whose sole purpose was to haul the team elsewhere." Among those who "got duped" were Freeman, former Predators Owner Craig Leipold, "who fronted Del Biaggio $10[M]," and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, "who signed off on the deal" to establish Del Biaggio as a minority owner (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 7/14).

PICKING UP THE TAB: Freeman Friday said that the team's local owners will replace Del Biaggio's $9.8M "personal guarantee to Metro Nashville under the team's" Sommet Center lease. Del Biaggio is "under federal investigation and has declared bankruptcy -- a situation that puts at risk" money he would owe the Metro Sports Authority if the team breaks its lease. Freeman: "We will do it in full. Hopefully that will take care of the issue" (TENNESSEAN.com, 7/11).

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