Friday, June 08, 2007

Balsillie's game

The joke starts with word from the Hamilton Spectator that the city councillors say Balsillie “wants them to approve his proposal to lease Copps Coliseum, Hamilton Place, and the Convention Centre” at their meeting next Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Balsillie’s mouthpiece, Toronto lawyer Richard Rodier, is telling the newspaper in Nashville, The Tennessean, how upsetting it is to read all this stuff about the Predators being moved to Southern Ontario. “It’s very frustrating reading all this wild speculation,” Roder said. “This team is not going anywhere as long as the lease is in place.”
I was going to write a similar piece, but Shoalts covers all the bases here nicely. One of the ugly sidelines to all of this is that the die-hard Predators fans (and they do exist) are hanging on every one of these articles, hoping Balsillie speaks the truth.

The doublespeak is certainly understandable considering he doesn't even own the team yet, but it's just going to make things that much uglier in the end.

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8 Comments:

At 1:51 PM, June 08, 2007, Blogger El Brucio said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 1:59 PM, June 08, 2007, Blogger FAUXRUMORS said...

1) Might Mr. Benjamin be on to something suggesting that Balsillie is just being used like he was in Pitt to get a better arena deal, and he has no real intention to buy the Preds?
2) In return he'll get an expansion team for his new arena in Kitchener? Until a sale is finalized anything is possible Stay tuned. LOL

 
At 5:15 PM, June 08, 2007, Blogger Joseph said...

Reading a number of Mr. Rodier's statements, it is clear that he and Balsillie are choosing their words very carefully. Sure they are saying things to pacify Nashville, but they always have caveats like "as long as the lease is in place". In a years time, not enough fans triggers the buyout - the lease is no longer in place. It seems to me that so long as the NHL BoG goes along with it, this team is as good as gone.

 
At 5:20 PM, June 08, 2007, Blogger Paul Nicholson said...

[Nashville fan]
No question they are choosing words carefully and saying things to keep Nashville fans happy - they want us to buy 13,999 tickets per game next year so they make as much money as possible but still get to move the team.

But what they lawyer (and Bettman, and everyone else) is saying is true (strange as that may sound). If the Predators sell 14,000 seats per game, the team stays for 7 years. We don't have to sell out a single game, or pass a fan test to prove ourselves as worthy to have hockey team. We just have to sell enough tickets and the team stays. Balsillie may want a team in Canada, but if we meet the sales figures in the lease, the only way he can make that happen is to re-sell the Predators and get another team.

 
At 5:23 PM, June 08, 2007, Blogger Paul Nicholson said...

Oh - and Fauxrumors - the arena deal the Predators have here (as well as the arena itself) are pretty sweet. If anything, there are several Nashville politicians that complain about it being way too sweet. The arena itself is very good and about to get a multi-million dollar scoreboard upgrade next month. So that is certainly not the issue. Attendance and profitability are.

 
At 12:16 AM, June 09, 2007, Blogger Stan the Caddy said...

I listened to Mr. Rodier on Primetime Sports, and the way he was interpreting the lease agreement was that they could move the team after any two consecutive seasons of less than 14,000 average tickets sold. He said that the 14,000 must be an average over the two years, and so they would need to average approximately 14,200 tickets sold per game next season to validate the lease.
Even if this does happen, he said his understanding was that the same stipulation would carry over to the next two years, and so on, and so on.
I am in no way familiar with the lease situation in Nashville, so I'm not saying this is true, but only that it is what Mr. Rodier was saying on PT Sports.

Also, they do have a sweet deal in Nashville, something like $150,000 a year?

You can listen to the interview here

 
At 8:36 AM, June 09, 2007, Blogger The Forechecker said...

Rodier was on Nashville radio yesterday afternoon, and mentioned the rent as being $150,000 per month, not per year (not really material when you're talking these kinds of bucks).

As to the attendance, here's how it works. If any two consecutive seasons average less than 14,000 cumulatively, then the ownership can implement the "cure" clause in the lease, which means that the 14,000 mark must be achieved in the next season (with the city having the option to purchase tickets) or else the ownership can void the rest of the lease for an $18 million fee.

The year immediately after the lockout doesn't count in such calculations, so the current thinking is that 2003-4 and 2006-7 were both under 14K, so the clause can be invoked later this month. Recently, however, the city's legal office said that their interpretation would be that 2003-4 and 2006-7 do not constitute "consecutive" seasons, so the option may not even be on the table yet to put the cure clause in place for next year. I'm sure some lawyers will rack up some healthy fees sorting that issue out alone.

Anyway, the basic idea is correct that if the team stayed here for several more years, and paid attendance dipped below 14K in 2010 and 2011, for example, then yes, the same clause could be invoked at that time.

 
At 9:36 AM, June 09, 2007, Blogger Stan the Caddy said...

Ya, you're right $150,000 a month, sorry about that. Still seems like a pretty sweet deal.

It seems even the lawyers are having difficulty figuring out the exact meaning of the lease agreement. I suppose only time will tell what the actual deal is.

I'm thinking that if Balsillie really wanted to move the team, and wanted to prevent the attendance from reaching the 14k mark, he could just raise ticket prices to an absurd amount (Maple Leafs levels) and I doubt the city would be willing to step up and dole out the necessary money (especially since they are apparently already getting hosed on the lease deal). Just a thought. Who knows what's really going on in Balsillie's head.

 

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