Savvis & Sprint Blues

St. Louis Blues owners Bill and Nancy Laurie announced June 17th that they plan to sell the hockey team and the long-term lease on its venue, St. Louis, Mo.’s Savvis Center.

Meanwhile, groundbreaking ceremonies were scheduled June 24th in Kansas City, Mo., for AEG Live‘s new Sprint Center – a venue some are speculating could become the new home of the Blues.

Film producer Howard Baldwin, who has owned NHL teams in the past, told the Kansas City Star he is looking into purchasing the Blues and moving them to the Sprint Center. His company, Baldwin Entertainment Group, has worked with AEG in the past.

However, such a move would be costly because of the team’s Savvis Center lease, which runs until 2024.

Paul McGannon, head of a Kansas City group seeking to bring a sports team to the city, told the Star he didn’t expect the Blues to leave St. Louis but that he wouldn’t rule out the possibility, particularly if the Lauries decided to keep the team and move it.

In announcing the sale plans, the Lauries cited losses of more than $60 million in the past two years. They bought the team in 1999, five years after the city-owned Savvis Center opened.

The day after the Lauries’ announcement, the venue’s naming-rights sponsor – information technology company Savvis Inc. – said it would pay $5.5 million to cancel its 20-year agreement with the venue. Naming rights deals are “not the best use of marketing resources for a highly targeted provider like Savvis,” the company said in a press release.

Meanwhile, AEG announced June 22nd that Mark Faber will serve as senior VP of business operations for the Sprint Center. The venue does not yet have a major tenant, but is scheduled to be completed by fall 2007. AEG is looking for an NBA or NHL team for the 18,500-seat facility.