Canadian businessman to buy Nashville NHL franchise
Predators to be sold to co-CEO of Blackberry maker
By BRAD SCHRADE and JOHN GLENNON
Nashville Predators owner Craig Leipold has signed a letter of intent to sell the hockey team to Canadian businessman Jim Balsillie and the official announcement could be as early as tomorrow, according to a source familiar with the deal.
The deal has been in the works for weeks, but the letter of intent does not mean it's been finalized.
"Both parties intend for it to happen subject to final (documentation)," said one source, who spoke to The Tennessean on condition of anonymity. "The purpose for the letter of intent it to demonstrate the degree of seriousness of both parties."
A sale of the team to Balsillie would naturally raise the question of whether the team would stay in Nashville or leave. Balsillie is a co-CEO of Research In Motion, the company that makes Blackberry handheld devices. He lives in Waterloo, Ontario.
The source did not know if the team would be leaving. Just last week, Leipold and the team signed a multi-year naming rights deal for Nashville's hockey arena with Franklin-based Sommet Group. The revenue from that agreement goes to the team.
When asked just last month about potential new investors in the Predators, Leipold said keeping the team in Nashville was a prime consideration for anyone interested.
"When I'm talking with people, it's all under the provision that this team is staying in Nashville, and if you're interested, come on and we'll continue to talk. Those people are the ones I'm restricting it to, the ones who have an interest in maintaining a team in Nashville.''
The Predators were saying little publicly tonight.
"We're not going to confirm or deny any reports or speculation at this time," said club spokesman Gerry Helper.
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