If you have a couple hundred million dollars lying around and are interested in buying an NHL team, you’re in luck. It’s turning into a buyer’s market. We all know the Phoenix Coyotes have been trying to complete a sale for almost two years, the Atlanta Thrashers are actively seeking buyers, Tom Hicks is looking to sell the Dallas Stars, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan is looking for someone to buy their 66% ownership in the Maple Leafs, and now, the St. Louis Blues are on the market as well.
Blues President Dave Checketts, who owns 20% of the franchise, has been working to find investors for 70% of the franchise that is owned by TowerBrook Capital Partners. They’ve wanted out for about a year, but unfortunately Checketts has been unable to find any potential owners to fill the void. Now, instead of finding investors for 70% of the team (and Scottrade Center lease), he’s turning his focus to selling off his 20% as well.
“Until it ends, until we find a ‘Mr. Wonderful’ to come along, somebody that can take this over and push it along, I’m going to continue to push this franchise to be the best,” Checketts said. “I’m going to keep on everybody and keep pushing to make the team better and come back strong. I feel good about where we’re headed.”
“I’m very proud of what we accomplished here,” Checketts said. “The Scottrade Center is filled for every game. Blues fans love their team. We have some terrific young players in place. We have an outstanding management team to take the franchise into the future.
“I don’t like being a 12-place team. But better days are ahead.
“But I can no longer be a buyer. For I have to tell the world ‘Folks, it’s for sale.’ And they ought to come in and look at it, because it is a respectable and healthy NHL team and in a great city. What I want to do now, what I have to do, is to make sure to find someone with the same passion and commitment that I do.”
That means there are currently five NHL teams out there looking for “Mr. Wonderful.” But before fans in Saskatoon or Quebec City start saving for Blues season tickets, this situation is different than the Atlanta and Phoenix situations. The Blues have deeper roots in the community—both with sponsors and with their fan base. As Checketts said, the team has sold out every game this season and by all accounts is a healthy franchise with decades of tradition.
As it stands today, yet another team is for sale. And this time, it’s being sold by an owner who really doesn’t want to sell. At least that part of the story is different.