Thursday, July 5, 2007
Third potential buyer for Predators enters ring
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A group of Nashville businessmen has
submitted a bid to buy the Predators, joining at least two other
potential buyers vying for the NHL team.
The group, led by David Freeman, chief executive officer of 36
Venture Capital, and Herb Fritch, CEO of HealthSpring Inc., has not
said how much it has bid in an attempt to try to keep the team in
"We've signed a confidentiality agreement, and we really can't
comment on it," Fritch said Thursday. The group submitted the bid
earlier this week, he said.
Predators spokesman Gerry Helper declined to comment about the
Nashville group's bid for the team.
"Until and unless we have a binding agreement in sight, we're
not going to comment on the status on the ownership situation,"
The Predators were put in play when current owner Craig Leipold
announced in May that he had signed a letter of intent to sell the
franchise to Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie for $220 million.
Leipold said his team has lost $70 million in 10 years of
Soon after making his offer, Balsillie started a process to move
the Predators to Hamilton, Ontario, if low ticket sales allowed the
Predators out of their lease with the arena in Nashville after the
Last week, Leipold asked the NHL to hold off its consideration
of the deal until he reached a binding agreement with Balsillie,
who is co-CEO of Blackberry makers Research in Motion Ltd.
Instead, Leipold is reportedly pursuing a bid from San Jose,
Calif.-based venture capitalist William "Boots" Del Biaggio III --
originally estimated at $190 million, the National Post in Canada
reported last week.
Del Biaggio, who owns a minority stake in the NHL's San Jose
Sharks, has an ownership agreement in place with Kansas City's
Sprint Center to bring a team there.
Del Biaggio did not immediately return phone calls Thursday
seeking comment about the Nashville group's bid to buy the
Richard Rodier, Balsillie's attorney, could not be immediately
reached on Thursday regarding the Nashville group's bid.
Fritch would not say how many Nashville investors are involved
in the group's attempt to buy the Predators but said they want the
team to stay in the city because it's good for the "community
economically, the quality of life."
"I've been a season ticket holder for a number of years and
enjoy hockey and the Predators," said Fritch, a northern Minnesota
native who's lived in Nashville for nearly 12 years.
"During hockey season, that's one of the major things my wife
and I look forward to. We'd feel like Nashville was a lot less
desirable place if the Predators weren't around."