SBD/May 26, 2011/Franchises

Final Hurdle Cleared In Sale Of Thrashers To True North Sports & Entertainment

Thrashers sale expected to be announced before NHL draft in June

The "final obstacle holding up the sale" of the Thrashers to Winnipeg-based True North Sports & Entertainment -- how the $170M purchase price would be split between the NHL and Atlanta Spirit -- "has finally been overcome," according to a source cited by Ken Campbell of THE HOCKEY NEWS. The resolution "appears to have favored the Atlanta Spirit and owner Bruce Levenson, who will reportedly receive $20 million of the $60 million relocation fee that is included in the purchase price." The negotiations for the sale "were being held up because the league and Levenson could not agree on how much each side would receive from the sale." The "purchase price for the franchise was reportedly $110 million, which would go to Levenson and the Atlanta Spirit, with a $60 million relocation fee that would go to the NHL." It was "believed the NHL was trying to extract the full $60 million relocation fee, plus at least another $10 million of the purchase price, while Levenson was negotiating for a portion of the relocation money." A source said that all that is left to be determined is "when the announcement will be made by the NHL." It "will either be done between now and the Stanley Cup final or between the end of the final and the draft" (, 5/25).

TIME WILL TELL: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, when asked yesterday on Tampa's WDAE-AM about the Thrashers' possible relocation, said, "I think you're being a tad presumptuous on what's going on in Atlanta. Nobody's announced anything and frankly if there is something going on nothing is going to happen until it actually happens, which means it may not happen. So I think people need to take a deep breath and pause" (, 5/25). In Winnipeg, Gary Lawless notes if there is "no progress in short order, Tuesday is the earliest date a sale could close and that would mean a news conference would be held next Wednesday." Any announcement "will be of a conditional sale and the beginning of a ticket drive to test the marketplace" (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 5/26). Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz said that an announcement "will likely come before the end of this week" (WINNIPEG SUN, 5/26).

NORTHWEST TERRITORY: NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly on Tuesday said, "We've had discussions with a group in Seattle. Certainly people who are interested in having NHL hockey in Seattle. I would rather not get into specifics to be fair to that group, or the process." A source said that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is "not a part of the current group." Daly "stresses he doesn't believe the local group was willing to act in time for next season." He added that he "has concerns about a possible venue for an NHL franchise." Daly: "Key Arena is a difficult arena for hockey. How many of those seats would be obstructed view seats?" (, 5/24).

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