SBD/May 2, 2012/Franchises

The Waiting Is The Hardest Part: Tom Stillman's Deal To Buy Blues Almost Complete

Stillman reportedly is close to finalizing $130M deal for Blues
The sale of the Blues to a group led by team minority owner Tom Stillman is “just about done,” according to NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly. Stillman would receive the Blues, the lease to the Scottrade Center and the club’s AHL affiliate, the Peoria Rivermen, among other items as part of the sale. The deal, reportedly worth approximately $130M , would be subject to approval by the NHL BOG. “This is a process that generally always takes time to complete,” Daly said. “But we’re now moving forward rapidly toward what we hope will be its successful conclusion.” Stillman, who also is the Chair & CEO of Summit Distributing, the second largest beer distributor in Missouri, became a minority owner of the team in '07. Stillman’s ownership group includes former U.S. Sen. John Danforth -- Stillman’s father-in-law -- along with Luxco CEO Donn Lux, surgeon Rick Lehman, Maritz CEO Steve Maritz and the Taylor family, owners of Enterprise Holdings. If the deal is closed and approved, it is expected that current Blues Owner Dave Checketts will no longer be affiliated with the franchise. Checketts put the Blues up for sale in March '11 when he could not complete a sale of the 70% stake in the team owned by Towerbrook Capital Partners. After a proposed deal between Checketts and Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer fell through, Stillman stepped up in January and signed a purchase agreement. Stillman is not expected to make any major changes to the team’s hockey operations staff, which include President John Davidson, GM Doug Armstrong and coach Ken Hitchcock (Christopher Botta, SportsBusiness Journal).

NHL HELPING BLUES OUT? The GLOBE & MAIL's David Shoalts cited two sources as saying that the Blues’ debt situation is "serious enough under current chairman Dave Checketts that the NHL has been paying the team’s bills, likely in the form of advances on its share of league revenues, since early January." Daly indicated that it was “'not accurate' to say the Blues sale is awaiting only an announcement or that the team was getting money from the league" (GLOBEANDMAIL.com, 5/1).
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