SBD/March 14, 2012/Franchises

Blues Sale To Minority Owner Tom Stillman Has Recently Made Substantial Progress

A deal could be closed within weeks to sell Blues to minority investor
The sale of the Blues to a group led by club minority Owner Tom Stillman "recently has made substantial progress, and the expectations are that a deal might be closed in a matter of weeks," according to Jeremy Rutherford of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly in late January indicated that the league wanted to complete the sale this month. Though the process "might not be wrapped up by the end of the month, he remains confident that the sides are nearing an agreement." Daly said in an e-mail, "We remain singularly focused on Tom Stillman completing his proposed transaction to purchase the St. Louis Blues' franchise." Meanwhile, sources said that Stillman's group has plans "to bring in Blues' Hall of Famer Brett Hull in a managerial position." It is also believed that Blues President of Hockey Operations John Davidson and Exec VP & GM Doug Armstrong "would remain on board." Tomorrow is the "scheduled deadline to a 75-day exclusive negotiating window granted by the NHL to Stillman." But the league "rescinded those rights several weeks ago and continued to negotiate with the group, rendering the deadline somewhat meaningless." Stillman, who signed a purchase agreement on Jan. 20, "has been working the past two months to secure equity and bank financing to complete the deal" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 3/14).

LONE WOLVES: ESPN THE MAGAZINE's Seth Wickersham writes nobody "wants to touch the Coyotes" nearly three years since the NHL took over ownership of the team. Top players "leave for better money," and attendance is "down 20 percent from three years ago." Sponsors "invest elsewhere," and Glendale, home of Arena, "is a sandy slab of foreclosures." The team "loses $30 million a year; the threat of relocation hovers like smog." Still, the Coyotes, with the NHL's eighth-lowest payroll, "are a band of lovable underdogs, forcing smiles through the indignities of being perpetually unloved." The team currently is "down to only two buyers who want to keep the team" in Glendale -- former Sharks President & CEO Greg Jamison and Bulls and White Sox Chair Jerry Reinsdorf. However, each time an owner "has been close, the deal blows up from the same old story: Who pays more: a rich man or the public?" If the team "isn't sold by the end of the season, the Coyotes probably will relocate this summer, perhaps to Seattle, perhaps to somewhere in Canada" (ESPN THE MAGAZINE, 3/19 issue).

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St. Louis Blues, Franchises, NHL

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