|During an Aug. 1 press conference at the Sommet Center, David Freeman discussed his Nashville-based group's intent to purchase the Predators from Craig Leipold. |
Those in attendance could hear the excitement in Craig Leipold’s voice as he “passed the torch,” by announcing his intentions to sell the Nashville Predators franchise to a group led by David Freeman and William “Boots” Del Biaggio. Here are some other news and notes that came out of the press conference:
• In order to show their commitment to seeing the deal through, the group put a $10 million deposit down toward the $193 million purchase price.
• There are eight members of the local group – seven are local and the eighth is Del Biaggio. Freeman said the group includes Herb Fritch, CEO of Healthsprings, but the remaining five partners are reluctant to come forward at this point. He said they will identify the remaining investors in roughly two weeks.
• When asked about the team’s contract with the Sommet Center and the city of Nashville, Freeman said he was very appreciative of Mayor Bill Purcell’s willingness to listen to the group’s concerns and needs due to the significance of keeping the franchise in Nashville. Freeman was also encouraged by the “blessing” he received from Governor Bredesen.
• Leipold emphasized that although there is still a long hard road ahead, the toughest part of the process has been completed. He said things really began to come together for the two parties when they went to New York City to meet with National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daily.
• Leipold also said that he considered being a minority owner with the group, but abandoned that plan when Del Biaggio stepped up. With the President and CEO of SandHill Capital along, the debt will be less than 25 percent, which is low for an NHL franchise. He said that will help the long-term viability of the team.
• Freeman stressed that Del Biaggio is no threat to the team or the city – they have similar interests. He is being brought in because of his passion for the game and expertise in the NHL ownership world. He said Del Biaggio cannot become the majority owner under the binding agreement.
• When asked what fans can do to help keep the team in Nashville, Freeman said “buy tickets and show up to games.”
• Both the current owner and potential owners could not stop singing the praises of the Our Team Nashville group and the efforts of 104.5 The Zone, who put together the ticket rally that produced 726 new full season ticket equivalents on July 19.
• From here, the binding letter of intent will be molded into a legal document and application of ownership that will be presented to the NHL. After the league and its Board of Governors do an extensive review of the potential sale and owners, they will vote with three-fourths approval necessary for the deal to pass.Related story: Leipold signs letter of intent to sell to local group