No word whether Spirit, True North are in negotiations

It is unclear this morning if the Thrashers have been granted  permission by the NHL to begin negotiations with True North Sports and Entertainment, the entity that would purchase the franchise and move it to Winnipeg, or if those talks have already begun.

However, it does appear the situation is headed in that direction. All attempts to find a buyer with the intention – and wherewithal – to keep the franchise in Atlanta have not moved past the preliminary stage. After signing a non-disclosure agreement for an initial look at team financial records, a prospective buyer must provide proof of the financial assets to complete a sale. No interested party has done so to this point. Time is running out.

As I was told and reported this week, things could move quickly in regard to a sale and relocation. Although, contrary to reports, it won’t get done by this weekend.

There is also no timetable on the possible completion of a deal with True North. It is also not known if such an agreement could be reached in time for next season. The structure for a deal could be in place as True North had first hoped to acquire the Phoenix Coyotes, owned by the NHL, until a resolution was reached to kept the team in Arizona for another season earlier this week. The Glendale City Council voted to pay $25 million to the NHL for operating expenses to keep the team at least for next season.

NHL bylaws require that an owner seeking to relocate a team submit a written application to the commissioner by Jan. 1 of the year preceding the proposed move — “unless a majority of the [clubs] consents to a later filing date.” That clause and caveat leave open the question of whether a move, if a deal is reached, would be for the 2011-12 or 2012-13 season.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, speaking on NHL Live radio Thursday, said the situation in Phoenix differs from Atlanta.

“With respect to any other franchise, it comes down to ownership,” Bettman said. “It’s the reason we ended up leaving Quebec City and Winnipeg. Those teams moved when nobody wanted to own the club there anymore. If you get to that position, where somebody is not prepared to own the club anymore and you can’t find a new perspective purchaser, then you are really between a rock and a hard place.

“We know that the current ownership of the Thrashers has been trying for a long period of time to try and sell the franchise and they haven’t been able to do it. … If they can’t find local ownership, then we might all have to deal with that. But I know they have tried very hard and I assume that they continue to try very hard.”

Bettman echoed deputy commissioner Bill Daly’s statements to the AJC’s Jeff Schultz earlier in the day and would not guarantee that the Thrashers would be in Atlanta next season. Bettman said questions about the team’s future were not his to answer and referred them to team ownership.

393 comments Add your comment

PureEvil

May 13th, 2011
4:02 pm

I still think something can be worked out but it will take a concerted effort by fans buying 2011-2012 season tickets(they would be refunded if team moves),

If I buy tickets and they stay and they suck as usual will I also get refunded? The problem here is not that Atlanta won’t support a NHL team it’s that the owners of the NHL team in Atlanta don’t give us a product worth supporting!

KLS1

May 13th, 2011
4:03 pm

Minor league hockey ain’t the NHL. Lets save this team first, then we can look to get our hockey fix somewhere else if they move.

thrasherdawg

May 13th, 2011
4:22 pm

Another thought, why doesn’t Chic-fil-A buy the team?

Joe McGrath

May 13th, 2011
4:23 pm

If you want to do something call NHL and voice your displeasure. 1-212-789-2000 and leave message on Fan Line.

cpsman_altanta

May 13th, 2011
4:31 pm

Crass Bonanza

May 13th, 2011
4:40 pm

@Dale Hawerchuk,

“Its sad a team leaves any city but please do not bash something you know nothing about.”

The bashing and ignorance go both ways, though. Various trolls spout off on how “Atlanta failed twice as a hockey market” (untrue, it is ownership that has twice failed this market, not Atlanta hockey fans), hockey can’t work here (but it can in Carolina, Tampa Bay and Nashville, really?), and southern U.S. markets don’t “deserve” hockey teams but chauvinistic Canadians “do” (should we take the Blue Jays and Raptors away from Toronto on principle?). Give me ONE valid reason why Atlanta, among all large North American markets, is uniquely unqualified or unable to support NHL hockey.

Like I said, the ignorance and bashing go both ways.

Shhh

May 13th, 2011
4:42 pm

It does not look good… Darren Eliot put his house for sale. I guess he would have nothing report in 2011/12.

Section-310

May 13th, 2011
4:59 pm

Everyone calm down. As a season ticket holder I don’t want the Thrashers to leave town. The only way to do that is to SUPPORT THE TEAM. In the midst of all the “rumors” of the Thrashers moving to some dink town in Canada, I have calmly renewed my tickets. Will try to go to the festivities on 05/21. Will anxiously what for the upcoming season. AND WILL TRY TO SUPPORT THE TEAM IN ANYWAY I CAN!!!

IF ATLANTA WANTS HOCKEY THEN SUPPORT THE TEAM. FORGET ABOUT THE OWNERS!!!

BUY SOMETHING THRASHER. A HAT, JERSEY, FLAG, BUMPER STICKER…. SOMETHING.

CALL THE SPORTS TALK RADIO STATIONS. CALL THE IDIOTS AT THE AJC….

SHOW YOUR NEIGHBORS YOU SUPPORT THE TEAM!!!!!!!

SHOW THE WORLD WE WANT NHL HOCKEY IN ATLANTA!!!

Then if they move, well we don’t deserve an NHL team.

Alan R.

May 13th, 2011
5:00 pm

Posted on Bill’s blog, but will post here as well:

Question for you all.

Has exclusive negotiating rights been agreed to with TNSE?

C-Viv is putting the cart way before the horse in claiming the Thrashers are “95% gone.” He’s reporting only what the ASG tell him to.

ASG have their media leverage in place. This, as much as I completely hate the group of morons, is an admirable strategy on their part. The onus is now on the local buyer to make a serious run for the properties.

Jay Clemons (@SI_JayClemons) has been tweeting recently that “this is a marathon, not a sprint.” I see what he means.

Lastly, if you need help figuring out whether the Thrashers have actually moved to Winnipeg yet, look no further than here:

http://www.didthethrashersmovetowinnipegyet.com/

litz

May 13th, 2011
5:20 pm

I will say, if there was EVER a time for a public unveiling of “The Balkan”, now is it.

All you need is a press conference and the guy holding up a checkbook and saying “we all know what the price is, who do I make the check out to?” … and ALL arguments concerning “nobody willing to buy and keep the team local” go out the window.

There is NO way the BoG would approve a relocation if that happened.

So, rather than ootz/whine/whatever about moving … since nobody really has a clue what’s actually going on … let’s return to greener pastures : who the heck IS “the balkan” ?

The clues are very minimal … graduated from a Big 10 college, wears slightly faded blue jeans, and at least one brown loafer – sockless, which reveals caucasion skin. Hints have seemed to indicate younger rather than older, so maybe .com money?

There was another hint dropped (dunno it’s usefulness or truthfulness) of native to north dakota.

The last – I dunno. The most money I can find tied to a native north dakotan is about 500 mil belonging to the guy that grows 85% of mcdonald’s potatoes. He didn’t go to a big-10 school though.

jebediah

May 13th, 2011
5:39 pm

..yeah, the Balkan, maybe instead of taking a picture of his shoe, maybe a headshot Kincaide… what a clown.

jim

May 13th, 2011
6:23 pm

SECTION 310 got it right…now is the time to buy tickets and preserve the Thrashers for at least 2011-2012 until a new owner can be found.It sounds like ASG may hang on for one more season but not more than that.

Also,why doesn’t the mayor arrange a meeting with Gary Bettman in Atlanta to address present concerns???!!!

wpgJetsfan

May 13th, 2011
6:29 pm

AT: Thrasher fans, I from Winnipeg feel a lot of sympathy for how you are being treated in this mess. It appears to be the exact same thing that happened to us in Winnipeg years ago.

Honestly most of us in Winnipeg wanted the Coyotes back because of the records and our traditions. But if we do get the Thrashers, TRUST ME when I say this, they will be taken care of. You have a very good young talented team. We will probably make a few changes to make it a playoff team.

But I hope you’ll join us with cheering them on when they beat the Welfare Glendale Coyotes.

Brian west palm beach

May 13th, 2011
6:44 pm

We should all sue the spirit bi#@!es for our loss. I might not move back to atlanta now. I just might have to become a panthers fan if this happens that was one of the only things going for atlanta. better yet we should protest the spirit at every hawks game so they will be afraid to go in public. They should all be shot for what they have done to atlanta hockey.

Sean

May 13th, 2011
7:15 pm

Why doesn’t Arthur Blank buy the team? He has been successful in turning the Falcons from one of the laughing stocks of the NFL to a team that is probably only a few pieces shy of a Super Bowl birth and victory. Surely he could do the same for the Thrashers?

Darkhorse

May 13th, 2011
7:36 pm

NFL rules prohibit any of their owners also owning another pro-sports franchise.

Plus, I don’t think Blank has any interest in hockey or bball.

Sean

May 13th, 2011
7:55 pm

Thanks Darkhorse, didn’t know that about the NFL rules.

Butros

May 13th, 2011
8:02 pm

For people comparing the 5.5M market in Atlanta to smaller Canadian markets, who cares? If there was a business case to make to keep hockey in Atlanta, somebody with deep pockets would have made it. If some Winnipeg billionaires want a team in Winnipeg, it’s because there is MONEY in it – despite the smaller population. It’s not about charity. They are doing this because it will make them money. If the size of the city was all that mattered, there would be a team in Mexico City – which would be only slightly more stupid than ice hockey in Georgia.

Jonathan Holleman

May 13th, 2011
8:10 pm

The NHL is not going to move in and invest in keeping the Thrashers in Atlanta. The move they made in Phoenix is going to cost them dearly, and they are running scared now.

Jon

May 13th, 2011
8:10 pm

Well, if the Thrashers do leave, that should increase the attendance at the Gladiators games. Then look for them to move up to the AHL since the Charlotte Checkers moved up this past year. Life goes on.

Wimps_ca

May 13th, 2011
8:14 pm

I was a season ticket holder when when we lost the Jets in the ‘peg, ripped my heart out. There is something Atlanta fans CAN do, put on a blitz to buy season tickets, we had a save the Jets campaign including this.

The Thrashers are improving, love Ladd and they’re not far off. If you have a fan club they should be mounting a serious campaign to sell tickets so that the current owners would not sell with 14K season tickets sold .

MrBill

May 13th, 2011
8:23 pm

This could down as a Trade the Mantoba Moose move to Atlanta and the Thrashers move to winnipeg hey we will have our Moose back. I bet anybody out there $500.00 that the thrashers will be back next season.

2mins

May 13th, 2011
8:24 pm

Wimps_ca…..It’s too late for that. The present owners are done. They want out and having a ticket blitz is not going to change thier collective minds.

You need someone with deep pockets that just wants to own the team for the sake of owning a team.

Jonathan Holleman

May 13th, 2011
8:27 pm

Blank could finance the Thrashers, with a security interest other than the team itself. That would not violate NFL policy. But his only benefit would be the interest return on his money. I can’t see him just being a bank.

Wimps_ca

May 13th, 2011
8:28 pm

2mins, if there were 14K season tickets sold, how could these guys justify the sale? Force their hand, don’t give up! Even if they don’t change their minds, it may sway somebody else, especially with a team on the rise and a good fan base to begin with.

MrBill

May 13th, 2011
8:32 pm

[...] Journal, WXIA has cited an undisclosed source that the team could be sold as early as this weekend. Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes that a deal with True North Sports and Entertainment of Winnipeg is "unlikely" to get done this [...]

litz

May 13th, 2011
9:03 pm

Jeez. Same stuff over and over again. This is like watching google live (put “Thrashers in, and watch the show … they scroll faster than can be read).

Was one that blew by claiming The Balkan is James Cox Kennedy (of the Cox family) … (shrug)

Alan R.

May 13th, 2011
9:14 pm

NFL rules do not prohibit an owner from owning another sports franchise.

NFL rules prohibit an owner from owning another sports franchise in a different market.

For example, Blank could buy the Thrashers, but could not buy the Stars.

farleybear

May 13th, 2011
9:23 pm

Winnipegger here….I just wanted to say that the reaction from the Thrashers fans and the comments regarding all this relocation talk, has been heads and shoulders above the maturity shown on the Phoenix boards during their saga. Call it Southern hospitality or gentlemanly, but whatever it is, I sure have a lot of respect for you loyal Thrasher fans out there wanting to keep your team but also not resorting to cheap shots and insults. That’s something none of us forget. Good on you!

Darkhorse

May 13th, 2011
9:29 pm

Didn’t realize that about the NFL rulesAlan R. That being said, I think Blank has said a few times he doesn’t have and interest in the Thrashers or Hawks. I believe his name came up quite a bit in ‘03 and ‘04 when Time Warner was selling to the ASG. Too bad him or Marcus couldn’t have stepped in then. We wouldn’t be sitting here today with such imminent doom hanging over the heads of Thrasher fans. Probably, at the very least, would have a few quality playoff runs under the franchise’s belt.

Sean

May 13th, 2011
9:50 pm

Farleybear: Most of us can’t blame Winnipeg for wanting a team after all your city lost its hockey team back in the 1990s. Just wish the solution was expansion rather than re-location.

Tom M

May 13th, 2011
9:55 pm

I live in Winnipeg and hope you get to keep your team in Atlanta. We lived through bad ownership and lost our team before, not much fun!
It is terrible how fans get blamed for bad owners, how can anyone expect sellouts when the owners refuse to put a competitive product on the ice for ten years.
If we ever get a team back I hope it is with TNSE, who appear to be a quality group.
Either way best of luck to hockey fans in Atlanta!

[...] soon. The prospects of a team landing in Winnipeg are more possible than they were in 1997. Chris Vivlamore; The Atlanta Journal-Constitution — It is unclear this morning if the Thrashers have been granted permission by the NHL to [...]

EA

May 13th, 2011
10:23 pm

C Viv that It is unclear if the Thrashers are discussing a move with Winnipeg, yet C Viv goes on a Toronto radio station saying he is 95 percent sure the Thrashers are leaving. I am stunned at this irresponsibility.

EA

May 13th, 2011
10:25 pm

C Viv’s article states that . . . text above ( sorry for the typo).

Matt from MN

May 13th, 2011
10:34 pm

Atlanta Scumbag Group can burn in Hell. Let the Thrashers leave, and I’m NEVER going to support any event at Philips again.

Alan R.

May 13th, 2011
10:38 pm

You’re correct, Darkhorse. Blank doesn’t want to buy anything else, at this point.

AtlFlamesFan

May 13th, 2011
11:03 pm

Who’s the bigger liar; ASG or Gary Bettmen. We all know ASG’s lies. Here is Bettmen’s entry from a February interview with Shultz:

But he (Bettmen) did reaffirm that the NHL is “committed” to Atlanta.

“We think it’s very important [for the league] and we believe that whatever issues the franchise has, they can be overcome, and ultimately the franchise can be successful,” he said. “We have a strong track record of addressing franchise problems and not abandoning cities. Look at Phoenix. [The Coyotes went into bankruptcy and were taken over by the league, which is looking for new owners.] I don’t think you need to go much farther down the road than that. But look at Buffalo, Ottawa, Pittsburgh. All three have had problems at some point, but they’ve all been successful.

“When the ownership situation is resolved, we believe the franchise will be able to move forward. We’re committed to the market. Our track record indicates we do everything we can do to avoid relocation.”

AtlFlamesFan

May 13th, 2011
11:05 pm

I cannot believe that no one has posted this gem.

Phoenix Coyotes Vote Passes, But Goldwater Institute Ponders Lawsuit Again

http://www.sbnation.com/nhl/2011/5/12/2167063/phoenix-coyotes-vote-glendale-goldwater-institute

Message2Bettman

May 13th, 2011
11:11 pm

This is all classic Bettman, scare the daylights out of the existing market, get more publicity than the team ever gets at this time of year, present relocation alternative and then extort funds from local owners/government/fans – the Manitoba Moose launched their 2011-2012 season ticket drive on Wednesday…there is no way the Thrashers are going North.

jim

May 13th, 2011
11:18 pm

I think a serious season ticket campaign would ensure the Thrashers stay for the upcoming season and buy more time for prospective new owners to kick the tires.No question ASG wants to sell but if the Thrashers can sell 14,000 season tickets in the next 6-8 weeks I think it would go a long way to buying some time to keep the team in Atlanta.This is a market the NHL doesn’t want to lose but they don’t own the team as they do in Arizona.Sounds like the mayor is getting a bit more involved now as well.If Nashville could save the Predators surely Atlanta can save the Thrashers!

Keep The Thrashers - You Can Help

May 13th, 2011
11:32 pm

Want to help in a quick and easy way? Like us on facebook. We have been contacted by prospective ownership groups who say they are impressed with the number of likes and the passion of the fans.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/KeepTheThrashers/188894621145432

goose

May 13th, 2011
11:46 pm

EA do you have a link to that radio interview

Gwinnett Fred

May 13th, 2011
11:48 pm

For some reason most of you people seem to think the ASG gives a damn about Atlanta.

THEY DON’T. They will sell out and try to make a buck – period.

The only way to get payback will be to boycott the Hawks when they are the only tenant at Phillips.

Do not go to any event at Phillips. Seriously, one year of boycotting events and you’d be amazed how fast musical acts, etc will flock (even more than they already do) to the Gwinnett Arena!

P!$$ on the ASG – there is nothing for us fans to fight for, they have made up their minds (years ago) – and that’s it.

Sad, but true.

Sean

May 13th, 2011
11:53 pm

So what’s the latest on Stephen Rollins trying to buy the team? Apprently he also expressed in interest?

Gwinnett Fred

May 13th, 2011
11:57 pm

It’s all Joe Johnson’s fault: Follow my 5 degees of separation!

The Thrashers aren’t moving if the ASG wasn’t so broke
The ASG wouldn’t be so broke if they didn’t overpay Johnson
Johnson wouldn’t be overpaid if they hadn’t gotten him in the 1st place
Belkin wouldn’t start the legal mess if they didn’t trade for Johnson
It’s Johnson’s fault

Nasty Nester

May 14th, 2011
12:11 am

So if the team heads north of the border and then wins the Stanley Cup within a couple years, I am going to initiate a Class-Action suit against the ASG owners for reimbursement of my 7 years of season tickets. The current owners are worthless. In the Arena, how many rafter sized posters of hockey players do you see? How much money was pulled from the Thrashers and put into the Hawks? How many times has the NHL had to tell the ASG that they were below the league minimum for the salary cap.. Yes, under the league minium. No wonder they’ve always lost money and been terrible.

Truth be told, unless a buyer gets all 3 (Thrashers, Hawks, Philips) the team is headed north much to my disappointment. Nobody is going to pay the money required to rent the arena for the hockey season unless they control the arena. That is where you make the money…ticket sales, merchandise sales, beer/food sales. And by not controlling the arena, you lose almost all that money. This year will be my second straight year of not owning season tickets unless a local buyer willing to spend money on the team to make them better is found.

Bye Thrashers…I hate Canadia. They stole the Flames and now want the Thrashers. If they get the Thrashers, I hope they flounder and fail miserably. Winnipeg is the taint sweat of Canadia.

AtlFlamesFan

May 14th, 2011
12:14 am

I still like the idea of a Class Action lawsuit against ASG (and the NHL?) for the deceptions that they have done to season ticket holders. Maybe a restraining order to prevent a sale?

litz

May 14th, 2011
1:26 am