So much for staying local
Predators stay for now; Boots buys in
The Nashville Predators aren't going anywhere.
Owner Craig Leipold signed a letter of intent Wednesday to sell the team to a local group of investors trying to keep the NHL franchise from leaving town.
The group of eight partners plan to pay $193 million (all figures U.S.), according to Leipold. One of the partners, David Freeman, chief executive officer of 36 Venture Capital LLC, has put down a $10-million deposit to make sure the deal is completed.
The only partner from outside the Nashville area is William (Boots) Del Biaggio, a California venture capitalist who is a part-owner of the San Jose Sharks.
Del Biaggio still buys in, and the price is reportedly in the same range as he was prepared to purchase the entire team. Given the difficulties involved in potentially breaking the team's lease, he's only in partway.
It's an arrangement that allows him to, potentially anyway, still get his team to Kansas City if Nashville can't hit their ticket targets, but where there's a backup plan given local investors will eat some of the losses if the team does, indeed, stay in Tennessee long term.
For all of those Predators fans who rallied to keep the team, this is definitely a victory, and I'm glad to see that they'll get their second chance. If the team is well-supported and can generate enough revenue to compete, here's hoping they'll be around for a long, long time. I have little doubt the on-ice product is once again going to be strong, especially given all of the young talent there, ready to step up.
But make no mistake: With Boots still in the picture, this team remains far from safe. The Predators are going to need to start breaking even, and soon, in order to stay in Nashville.
- As an aside, the wire article quoted above notes that Del Biaggio will give up his minority stake in the San Jose Sharks as part of completing this deal.