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Ticketmaster site still up for Hamilton Predators @NHL

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -Jim Balsillie's $220 million offer for the Nashville Predators fell through in June after he started taking season ticket deposits in Canada.

On the Internet, however, fans still can put down a deposit for the "Hamilton Predators."

The Nashville group trying to finalize its $193 million purchase by Oct. 31 received a copy of an apparent Ticketmaster confirmation of a $500 deposit for upper bowl seats to the "Hamilton Predators NHL Franchise" dated Monday.

A spokesman for the Nashville investors said they did not know who made the deposit.

But the Ticketmaster Web site that lists a start date of June 14 for Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ontario, still is working.

It included a message Monday saying, "Predators Sports and Entertainment has advised that it is still planning to purchase the Predators Hockey Team and media reports to the contrary are erroneous."

The Predators had told Balsillie to quit using their logo in connection with his original move to take season ticket deposits. A team official said it was surprising the site still exists.

"And it's surprising anyone would put down a deposit considering that group has no agreement to buy the team," said Gerry Helper, the Predators' vice president of communications.

Balsillie, better known as co-CEO of Blackberry makers Research in Motion Ltd., lost out in his bid for the Predators after angering owner Craig Leipold who later said the billionaire was being advised by what he called a "rogue lawyer."

Leipold took a $10 million deposit in August from a group working to keep his 10-year-old franchise in Nashville. The investors currently are working with Metro Nashville officials to revise the arena lease for more favorable terms.

But Balsillie had a letter sent to the Metro Nashville Sports Authority last week announcing his continued interest in the Predators. The letter called Nashville a good hockey market, offered to hike the team's exit penalty for leaving the arena and that Balsillie wouldn't need other lease changes.

David Freeman, one of the Nashville investors, responded by quoting a fan who said, "Keep your ... hands off our ... team." Spokesman Joe Hall said Monday night they couldn't help but question the commitment to Nashville that Balsillie expressed in the letter to Metro officials.

"Local ownership is the way to ensure that the team stays here in Nashville where it belongs for the long haul," Hall said.

Helper said he could not speak to Balsillie's intentions or motives because the team has one binding agreement with Freeman and his Nashville partners.

"It's Craig Leipold's team to sell. That is the only agreement that exists," Helper said.

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