Balsillie Back In The Picture

October 12, 2007

In a letter written by a local business man who was heavily involved with the campaign of Nashville’s new mayor it appears Jim Balsillie is ready to try to dance again.

Here is it in it’s entirety:

I (Bo Roberts) am writing on behalf of a client of NetCom LLC, Predators Sports and Entertainment LP (“Purchaseco”). We have been asked to summarize my client’s position on matters related to the two arena operating agreements in the event, however unlikely, that the Freeman/Del Biaggio Group may not be able to reach an agreement with the Authority and Metro government.

First, let me state that Purchaseco is 100 per cent owned by Jim Balsillie of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada and that Mr. Balsillie was previously in negotiations with Craig Leipold for the purchase of the Predators. After having had extensive discussions with him, I am completely convinced that Mr. Balsillie’s understanding of the Nashville market at that time was incorrect, and that Mr. Balsillie recognizes that. He is now committed to Nashville as a viable hockey market, one in which he strongly desires to own a franchise; and that he will commit the resources that are necessary to lead to a Stanley Cup for the Predators and Nashville. He is also keenly aware of the recent outpouring of support of the Predators by the community, and our concrete expressions that hockey and the Predators are important to Nashville. Along these lines, Jim has assured me that he would welcome, but not require, local partners as a part of the ownership team. Specifically, he would welcome the participation of the local investors in the Freeman Group, who have so diligently worked to keep the Predators in Nashville. You can be assured, ladies and gentlemen of the Authority, that Aubrey Harwell and I would not be associated with any group that we felt would lead to the demise of this important franchise in Nashville.

That said, I want to outline, in layman’s terms, the steps that Purchaseco would be willing to take to make this franchise successful. First the existing arena operating agreements will require no changes whatsoever unless they benefit the Authority and the residents of Nashville. In that regard, Purchaseco will make the following commitments that will strengthen the position of the Authority and Metro Government:

+ Purchaseco will respect the previously stated opinion of Metro’s legal department to the effect that the 2006-07 hockey season was not the second consecutive “full season” of sub 14,000 paid attendance. As such, the Early Termination Notice issued by the Predators in June, 2007 will be void and of no effect. Further, any such notice could not occur until after the 2007-2008 season results are known.

+ Purchaseco will make the necessary arrangements to comply with the minimum tangible net worth guarantee provisions, as required in the arena operating agreements.

+ Purchaseco will increase the exit fee to the owners for terminating the License Agreement to approximately $75 million from approximately $16 million, to be adjusted only by cumulative operating losses, but in no event will decrease below $25 million.

+ Purchaseco will contract with a nationally-recognized facility management firm to operate the Sommet Center, and structure the contract so that Nashville (the Authority) and Purchaseco would share the benefits from improved financial results.

+ To assure the Authority and Nashville that the team will be competitive and the franchise has a chance to succeed, the owners would guarantee a minimum salary base of at least the midway point between the minimum and maximum requirements under the salary cap arrangements. This would be at least an $8 million investment over and above the required floor.

These are the highlights of our proposal. Detailed and appropriate language describing the foregoing can be submitted immediately when appropriate and upon the Authority’s request.

Let me summarize: the only changes my client would request in the current operating and licensing agreements would be changes that would benefit the Authority and the citizens of Nashville. If you feel that it is appropriate, my client is willing to meet with the Authority and any appropriate officials to further discuss the items outlined above, but, more importantly, to share his passion for hockey and his desire to bring a Stanley Cup to Nashville.

Thank you for the consideration of these comments.

Well…will wonders never cease. I don’t know whether to laugh, cry or flat out kiss my team goodbye. I can tell you one thing…I am sick and tired of not knowing what is happening with this team! Does Mayor Karl Dean owe Roberts a big time favor? if so this could be the way he pays him back.

Crotch Bang to the City of Nashville and the group of local investors who didn’t get this deal worked out before Balsillie showed up again.



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  2. I tell you Joe, I have just about had enough of this roller coaster ride. You know, I still love this team but I have just about washed my hands of the whole ownership/where will they play next year or the year after that thing. Heck, with the price increase on tickets, they have just about priced themselves out of my budget anyway.

  3. I feel your pain Darrell…I love the Preds as much as anyone but I feel like a seven year about to throw up stuck on a tilt a whirl at the county fair and the drunk, cigar smoking operator is laughing at me as he pushes the speed up more!

  4. The other thing worth mentioning here, is that the local group is still the only one that can negotiate with current owner Craig Leipold. This new communication has actually been made to the city, as Leipold can’t talk with anyone else until the end of October. Shrewed way of getting the message out there without going around the contract. I think Balsillie may be learning after all.

    More here

  5. Great point Paul…I think the bottom line here is that Balsillie refuses to go away. I just hope that this doesn’t cloud the minds further of city council members as they are trying to resolve this issue. Balsillie is trying desperately to appear like Nashville’s Knight in shining armor.

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