SBD/March 7, 2011/Franchises

Checketts Rebuffs Minority Owner's Bid To Take Over Blues

SCP Worldwide will continue seeking financial support to replace Blues investor
A group led by Blues minority owner Tom Stillman has made an offer to "purchase the team outright," but Owner Dave Checketts' SCP Worldwide has "rejected the bid," according to sources cited by Jeremy Rutherford of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. SCP instead "will continue seeking financial support to replace the Blues' major investor, TowerBrook Capital Partners, and maintain control of the club." The bid from Stillman's group is the "only known offer for the team, an offer sources said was far less than the estimated value of the franchise." Forbes valued the franchise at $165M in '10. Sources indicated that Checketts "would step aside if he was offered his asking price, which is not known at this time, but based on the recent bid he is not ready to sell." Sources said that Stillman's investment group "includes a couple of 'heavy hitters' ... and also has strong St. Louis connections." It is "unknown if a second proposal will be submitted, but multiple sources said that Stillman is committed to gaining majority ownership of the Blues." Under the current arrangement, TowerBrook "possesses the largest stake in the team" at 75%, followed by SCP at slightly more than 10% and Stillman at 10% (ST LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 3/5). 

NO PLAYOFF PAYOFF: In St. Louis, Greg Edwards notes with the NHL playoffs "looking increasingly unlikely for the St. Louis Blues, the team is facing the loss of millions of dollars in playoff revenue, not to mention half the price of 600 season tickets." As part of a "highly publicized and risky promotion, the Blues offered the buyers of 300 lower-level and 300 upper-level season tickets a deal at the beginning of the season: Pay half of the price of your seats up front, and not a penny more if the team fails to make the playoffs." Playoff revenue is "key to the team’s financial performance." Blues Exec VP/Finance & Administration Phil Siddle noted that revenue for fiscal '10 was $103.7M, down $7.6M or 6.8% from fiscal '09 -- "primarily because of the team’s failure to make the playoffs last season and insurance proceeds from player injuries that did not recur." The Blues also have been "reducing payroll by trading away players as the team continues to look for new ownership in a recession in which investors are hard to find, financing is scarce and other teams are up for sale" (ST. LOUIS BUSINESS JOURNAL, 3/4 issue).
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