SBD/May 11, 2012/Franchises

Blues' Tom Stillman, Local Ownership Group Pledge To Be Guardians Of The Franchise

Stillman attracted several St. Louis business leaders as Blues investors
New Blues Owner Tom Stillman in a "heartfelt and passionate delivery" during his introductory press conference Thursday stressed that each member of the team's new ownership group is "seeking a title more meaningful than owner," according to Jeremy Rutherford of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. Stillman said, "We are going to make sure that we are respectful of that legacy and that we enhance our connections to it, to the alumni and to Blues' history. We see ourselves more as stewards of the Blues than owners." He added, "We aim to put the Blues on solid financial footing. We need to make the franchise stable and sustainable." Stillman noted that Thursday was a day he "couldn't envision materializing in his 'wildest dreams.'" As the eighth owner of the franchise, Stillman's group is "paying an estimated $130 million for the Blues, the Peoria Rivermen farm club, the lease on Scottrade Center and a significant interest in the neighboring Peabody Opera House." In searching for investors in his ownership group, Stillman "attracted a host of area business leaders." Blues investor and former Stifel Nicolaus President Scott McCuaig said, "I think it was Tom's commitment to going out to the community, asking for business people to get involved."  (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 5/11). The GLOBE & MAIL's David Shoalts noted Blues investor David Steward represents the "second significant investment in an NHL team by an African-American, although he is not expected to take an active role in the Blues' operations." The NHL's other African-American investor is Capitals Vice Chair Sheila Johnson (, 5/10).

FUTURE LOOKS BRIGHT: In St. Louis, Dan O'Neill writes it would "be an embellishment to say [NHL Commissioner] Gary Bettman was a driving force for Tom Stillman in negotiations," but Bettman "recognized hockey passion when he saw it, and he saw it in Stillman." Bettman said Thursday, "It was passion, perseverance and patience. This was not a simple, easy process. And Tom hung in there, more than hung in there. He was committed to getting it done. The fact that we're here today speaks volumes about what he can accomplish in difficult standards." O'Neill writes, "Maybe Stillman and his local group would not have prevailed without the support, non-partisan as it must be, of the league's commish. The city and its Blues had a friend in Bettman." Stillman said Thursday, "Gary has just been great to us, great to me. I think he's very clearly recognized the importance of local ownership and, as of several months ago, he really took on our cause and really helped to make it happen." O'Neill writes there is a "provincial flavor to the Blues that Bettman recognizes, a flavor best served by local ownership." Bettman said, "I don't think anybody should be concerned about this franchise's stability going forward because of the people that now own it" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 5/11). Bettman said, "We know the future is extraordinarily bright. The balance sheet looks much, much better, much, much stronger" (AP, 5/10). 
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