Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Ride the Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning is being sold to investor group Absolute Hockey Enterprises, which will become the fourth owner in the 15-year history of the National Hockey League franchise.

Palace Sports & Entertainment Inc., the team's owner over the last seven years, announced the pending sale Tuesday morning. The company, led by Detroit billionaire Bill Davidson, has lost more than $50 million on its original $115 million investment, posting only one profitable season in 2003-04 when the Lightning won the NHL's Stanley Cup championship.
The team's new ownership? Doug MacLean, Jeff Sherrin and Oren Koules (pictured).

MacLean is the former GM of the Columbus Blue Jackets, and given the dollars involved is likely just a figurehead (at least on the business side) while being moved into a CEO role. Sherrin is a real estate developer from Coral Springs on Florida's southeast corner and the CEO of a company called Venture Outlet Centers.

Koules, meanwhile, is a movie producer from Chicago who is most known for being part of the Saw slasher flicks. He's also definitely a hockey nut, having played in the WHL and minor pro leagues. He's also the owner of the minor league Helena Bighorns, and involved as a Peewee hockey coach in Los Angeles. Koules worked as a top floor trader on the Chicago Mercantile exchange after hockey, but moved into the film business and now owns Evolution Entertainment (which has ties to actor Charlie Sheen, among others).

That motley crew call themselves Absolute Hockey Enterprises, and all three of the identified partners say they will relocate to the Tampa area. The entire group consists of "10 or 11" individual entities.

UPDATE Doug MacLean said on Toronto radio today that the group would be seven individuals and that the sale price was in the $200-million ballpark.



At 1:51 p.m., August 07, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hoooo Boy.
Another under-funded gaggle of NHL owners.
If a Billionaire like Davidson can't make it work there because the market can't support NHL calibre prices then who can?

At 3:21 p.m., August 07, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excuse me, but Gary Bettman said that current economical system quarantees that all 30 teams are healthy.

At 3:33 p.m., August 07, 2007, Blogger John said...

Davidson turned back several bids for the Lightning before meeting with Absolute Hockey over the last six weeks, Wilson said

This has been in negotiation for 6 weeks and this is the first we've heard of it?

How much behind the scenes haven't we heard about?
Are there other sales in progress that hasn't been made public yet?
Are these owners who have absorbed the limit of their loses and are wanting to cash out while franchise values are high? (Balsillie should get a kickback!)
If these teams are losing money hand over fist, how is their franchise value still so high? The guys buying aren't idiots, what do they know that the rest of us don't?

It's a crazy time.

At 3:55 p.m., August 07, 2007, Blogger Chemmy said...

Tampa had the third highest home attendance, behind only Montreal and Detroit. How are they losing money?

At 4:01 p.m., August 07, 2007, Blogger Art Vandelay said...

They aren't. Just like all the other teams aren't losing money. At least, not if they counted debits and credits like the head of a household would. But when your accounting is weighted in favor of minimizing revenue so as to avoid, among other things, taxes and the CBA-mandate payroll, of course they're all "losing" money.

At 5:43 p.m., August 07, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Revenue sharing, men. Nashville loses money (other teams, too) but Toronto, Philly, Rangers etc. pay for those losses.

Even Ottawa has to pay which would have been a joke couple of years ago.

This is how it works. 54% to the players and 46% to the owners. Over two billion revenue and in the end league as a whole breaks even.

At 6:16 p.m., August 07, 2007, Blogger McLea said...

Apparently the agreeement includes a shit load of undeveloped land around the arena, which should come as no surpise given the background of one of the owners. This is according to Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Bay Tribune.

At 6:24 p.m., August 07, 2007, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Good point, McLea, and something I meant to mention in my FanHouse piece. The real estate side of this is going to be a big part for the owners; the hockey side may, however, be a mess with MacLean involved.

At 10:46 p.m., August 07, 2007, Blogger Marc Foster said...

Minor correction James, but the Bighorns are in the NorPac, not the NAHL. They dropped down from Tier II-Jr A NAHL to the then-Jr B NorPac before last season, and the NorPac was recently "promoted" along with most of the other American B leagues to the new "Tier III-Jr A" designation a few weeks ago.

At 10:09 a.m., August 08, 2007, Blogger J. Michael Neal said...

The real estate side of this is going to be a big part for the owners;

Good luck with that. Any of you checked out the state of Florida real estate lately?

At 12:22 p.m., August 08, 2007, Blogger The Acid Queen said...

If a Billionaire like Davidson can't make it work there because the market can't support NHL calibre prices then who can?

Because clearly, several seasons of asses-in-seats sellouts is a SURE sign that a team is not working in a market.

Bill Davidson, when he bought the Ice Palace/SPT Forum, did not want to own the Lightning because hockey was not his thing--he took ownership of the team because the team was part of the property.

All he's doing is recouping his investment.


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