The Carolina Hurricanes have been for sale, in some form, over the last several years. Every so often, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman would shut down speculation – mostly from Quebecois media – about the future of the franchise.
“There’s no imperative for the franchise to be sold on any immediate basis, and the franchise is not moving,” he said in January.
There was talk owner Peter Karmanos Jr. (and his roughly 20 minority owners) wanted a partner. There was talk he wanted someone to be a majority owner, but still control the team. There was lots of talk.
On Thursday, a buyer finally emerged, with long-standing ties to the NHL.
Chuck Greenberg, the former managing partner of the MLB Texas Rangers who once sought ownership of the Dallas Stars, is “close to” a deal to buy the Hurricanes for around $500 million – the Vegas expansion price tag – with the intention of keeping the team in Carolina. That’s according to Scott Soshnick, a sports business reporter for Bloomberg.
Jeff Gravley of WRAL reports that the team and Greenberg have signed a letter of intent.
Greenberg has played an interesting role in the recent history of two NHL franchises. As an attorney with Pittsburgh-based Pepper Hamilton, he brokered the deal that handed ownership of the Pittsburgh Penguins to Mario Lemieux in 1999 and then the deal that helped build Consol Energy Center (now PPG Paints Arena) as the team’s post-Igloo home.
According to ESPN, he also “tried to facilitate David McDavid’s attempt to buy the Atlanta Thrashers.”
Along with the Rangers and several minor league baseball teams, Greenberg was approved as a potential buyer of the Dallas Stars in 2011. Greenberg eventually opted not to submit a bid on the Stars:
Disappointed but not bidding on Stars. New long term TV deal was key to turnaround plan. Got very close but could not get agreement.
— Chuck Greenberg (@chuckgreenberg) October 22, 2011
The Stars were eventually sold to Tom Gaglardi for $240 million.
Are the Hurricanes worth $500 million? Well, three years ago, Karmanos set the price of the franchise at $420 million, despite the fact that in 2016 the Hurricanes were deemed the NHL’s least valuable ($230 million) franchise by Forbes.
[The Hurricanes are] a valuable franchise despite what some of your folk in Canada say about them. I don’t see a basketball or baseball or football team coming here. We’re going to be the lone ranger here for quite some time,” he told TSN.
Plus, the Hurricanes have one of the most favorable arena leases in the NHL that runs through 2024. Said Karmanos in 2015: “the deal we have with the arena in Raleigh is so lucrative. You would have to be an idiot to move it.”
Chuck Greenberg: Apparently not an idiot.
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