Predators Sold For $220M

After the NHL’s Nashville Predators finished its season with a franchise-record 110 points and a third-place finish in the league, team owner Craig Leipold confirmed May 24th that he is selling his team to Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie for $220 million.

They say it’s best to go out on a high note. Unfortunately, while it may be the Predators’ best season yet, the same cannot be said about the profit the Predators brought in.

"I have come to the conclusion that I cannot make it work here," Leipold said. "We are one of the elite teams in this league, and we are by far the lowest revenue team in the league."

Leipold lost $15 million this past season with an average of only 13,815 fans in attendance. He has lost an estimated $70 million since the NHL awarded the franchise 10 years ago.

Balsillie, the co-CEO of BlackBerry-makers Research in Motion Ltd., had pulled out of a $175 million deal to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins in December when the NHL refused to allow the billionaire to move the team.

It is still up in the air whether Balsillie will move the Predators.

The consent agreement with the NHL that must be signed includes a clause preventing a new owner from relocating the team for seven years, with an arena lease in effect. But because of low ticket sales this season, Leipold or Balsillie may have the chance to exercise a clause that allows a "cure" season.

This clause offers the option of Nashville buying tickets to ensure attendance of 14,000. If the city declines, the team could relocate by paying an exit fee following the upcoming season.

Balsillie declined to comment on the franchise or a move because terms of the sale won’t be completed until June 30th. He reportedly reactived an agreement with the City of Hamilton that would give him exclusive rights to bring a team to Copps Colisum.

Brian Whitfield, a managing partner for the Sommet Group, which took over naming rights for the Nashville Arena May 18th, said in a statement, "I reaffirmed my commitment to the team and to the naming rights agreement without hesitation."