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Jeffrey Vinik Agrees To Purchase Lightning From OK Hockey

Jeffrey Vinik Finalizes Agreement To Buy
Lightning From OK Hockey
The Lightning announced Friday morning that Red Sox investor Jeffrey Vinik's Tampa Bay Sports & Entertainment has executed an agreement to purchase the NHL club from OK Hockey. The deal also includes the company that operates St. Pete Times Forum and two parcels of land adjacent to the arena. Vinik will be Chair and sole controller of the new ownership group. The transaction still is subject to approval by the NHL BOG (Lightning). In St. Petersburg, Damian Cristodero reports NHL approval is "expected to be done in two to four weeks" because Vinik is financing the purchase in cash. It is "believed the key to the transaction was the willingness of former owner Palace Sports & Entertainment to take less on the dollar to settle its financing of OK Hockey's purchase" (TAMPABAY.com, 2/5). The GLOBE & MAIL's David Shoalts cites a source as saying that Vinik will pay $170M (GLOBESPORTS.com, 2/5). However, THE HOCKEY NEWS' Ken Campbell reported it is believed Vinik "negotiated a discount on the asking price" of $170M because "he realized he would not be able to trade" C Vincent Lecavalier and his 11-year, $85M contract. Most of the money from the purchase price will go to PSE, "which extended $100[M] in financing" to OK Hockey to complete its deal in '08. Galatioto Sports Partners will receive $30M. That is "not expected to leave much" for Koules and Barrie, who purchased the team for $200M two years ago. The "task now is for Vinik to find someone to run the team as president, preferably someone with local roots." Vinik reportedly has "concerns about being perceived as an absentee owner and is eager to get someone in place who can be the public face of the franchise" (THEHOCKEYNEWS.com, 2/4).

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