Report: Another potential owner interested in Preds

Friday, June 29, 2007 at 2:26am

It’s time once again to follow the bouncing prospective owners for the Nashville Predators.

Thursday it was reported in the National Post in Canada that Predators owner Craig Leipold is now set to deal with William “Boots” Del Biaggio III, a California businessman who wants to place a team in the new Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Reports are the Del Biaggio, who has several business interests in the San Jose area, including a part ownership in the San Jose Sharks of the NHL, offered $190 million for the Predators. Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie offered what is believed to be between $220 million and $238 million.

Adding to the intrigue is a local group that plans to meet with Leipold in the next few days.

“We are currently free to explore any and all options regarding the sale of the Nashville Predators,” Leipold said in a prepared statement. “However, until and unless there is a binding agreement in place, we do not plan to comment on the status of the Predators ownership. We will not comment on rumors and speculation.”

Del Biaggio had said late last week that he was no longer interested in pursuing the Predators.

He told the Kansas City Star today that he did not want to make any “official” statement. An e-mail request and a voice mail left for Del Biaggio by the City Paper were not answered.

Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) owns the management agreement to the new facility in Kansas City. Del Biaggio has an agreement with AEG to own and operate an NHL franchise in the new arena. AEG is owned by Philip Anschutz, who owns the Los Angeles Kings of the NHL.

Kansas City has previously been the home of an NHL franchise. The Kansas City Scouts were an expansion team, playing at Kemper Arena for two seasons in 1974-75 and 1975-76. The team then moved to Colorado as the Rockies. In 1982 the franchise moved once again to New Jersey and became the Devils.

There has been talk of another round of expansion for the NHL. Kansas City and Las Vegas were expected to be two of the front-runners.

David Poile, Predators executive vice-president/general manager, has found the instability of the franchise to be a hindrance in signing free agents. He is taking the latest news in stride.

“It is the same story with a different twist every day,” Poile said. “The team is for sale, yet it is not sold. Until it is sold, Craig is still the owner of the team.”

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