SBJ/20081117/This Week's News

NHL adopts disclosure policy for owners

NHL owners accustomed to minding their own business now have to disclose it, courtesy of a new policy instituted by the league in late September.

In response to a series of unknown financial arrangements between former Nashville Predators owner William “Boots” Del Biaggio and two other NHL owners, the league’s board of governors adopted a new policy that requires owners to disclose any and all business and financial relationships between one another.

The rule means that an owner like AEG, which owns the Los Angeles Kings, must submit to the league every single one of the arenas that it manages that also serve as home to an NHL club, like Jobing.com where the Phoenix Coyotes play. The same is true for Jeremy Jacobs, who owns the Bruins and Delaware North, an arena concessions company with business throughout the league.

All 30 of the league’s clubs have complied with the new rule since it was instituted in late September, said league sources who spoke anonymously because of the privacy of the new policy.

The rule also extends to potential new owners. As part of the application process for NHL ownership, future buyers of NHL clubs will be required to disclose any business ties with other NHL owners at the time of the potential purchase.

Leipold

The rules are a response to the disclosures that Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold and AEG loaned $10 million and $7 million, respectively, to Del Biaggio before his purchase of the Predators last year. The league was unaware of the loans and caught off guard when they were disclosed this summer in a bankruptcy filing by Del Biaggio.

Part of the reason the rule extended beyond financial loans to all business arrangements was because AEG Chief Executive Tim Leiweke told the New York Post that his loan was made so AEG might win management rights to the Nashville arena. He said it wasn’t given to influence the Predators to relocate to the arena AEG operates in Kansas City.

In addition to requiring clubs to disclose business relationships, the NHL also has begun requiring owners to notify the league when they begin a sales procedure. The league has often found out about potential team sales through the press, but in the future, owners will be expected to alert the league as they begin to put together a sales pitch — even if that pitch is just for a percentage stake in a team.

The league feels that both rules will help it respond to questions regarding not only relationships between owners but also potential franchise sales, sources said.

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