Spirit in negotiations about Hawks, arena rights

In case you missed it, here is Tim Tucker’s story about the latest developments in the Atlanta Spirit ownership. The AJC continues to report the story and we will let you know of any new developments.

The Thrashers aren’t the only team that the Atlanta Spirit ownership group is discussing selling.

The Spirit, in the process of negotiating a deal that would send the hockey team to Winnipeg, also is in talks about a possible separate sale of the basketball Hawks, who would remain in Atlanta.

Two people familiar with the situation, both of whom asked not to be identified because of the ongoing talks, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the Spirit and outgoing San Diego Padres owner John Moores are in an exclusive negotiating period regarding the Hawks and the Philips Arena operating rights. Both people said a deal is not close and that it’s far from assured one will get done.

The exclusive negotiating period means the owners agreed not to pursue the sale of the Hawks to any other prospective purchaser for a prescribed period of time. It is not known when Moores’ exclusivity expires.

Moores did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Meanwhile, negotiations continued on a possible sale of the Thrashers to True North Sports and Entertainment, a Canadian group that would relocate the team to Winnipeg. True North does not have an exclusivity agreement, meaning the Spirit remains free to entertain offers to keep the Thrashers in Atlanta.

As of late Tuesday afternoon, Thrashers president Don Waddell said no such offers had been received.

“My job is to continue to actively pursue buyers,” Waddell said. “At this time, there are no further developments.”

You can read the rest of the story here.

51 comments Add your comment

Jeremy H

May 18th, 2011
8:14 am

Is the NHL going to allow relocation, if AS is simply ignoring viable offers to keep the team in Atlanta? Sounds like they’re just selling to the highest bidder, which I get (from a business perspective)… however NHL bylaws state that ownership must exhaust all options to keep the team in it’s current market, no?

Is the NHL cool with simply allowing AS to deny Atlanta a team, in pursuit of a bigger buyout?

Atlanta Flames Fan

May 18th, 2011
8:24 am

Yes Jeremy, the NHL is abandoning its “covenant with the fans” of Atlanta. The NHL has a conflict-of-interest now that they are losing $15M a year in Phoenix. To make up for their losses, they are sacrificing Atlanta in order to collect a $60M relocation. There is no doubt in my mind that if the sale of the Coyotes would have gone through, that the NHL would be still fighting for us in Atlanta.

Randy A

May 18th, 2011
8:25 am

The NHL gets #60M if the Thrashers relocate !!!! Enough said !! How about stepping up Bettman speak up to the Atlanta Fans !!

kiss it goodbye

May 18th, 2011
8:26 am

It is all about the relocation fee! 60M to run the Yotes would go a long way in the BOG’s eyes. Remember the NHL owns the Yotes. So yes the NHL will bend the rules however they have to, to make the loud Canadians happy and regain some of their losses on the Yotes. This would be the first time they didn’t follow the by laws. The Flames play where now?

kiss it goodbye

May 18th, 2011
8:28 am

oops this wouldn’t be the first time they did follow the by laws. Proof reading before coffee not always correct

Puck Like A Porn Star

May 18th, 2011
8:29 am

What are the odds a deal gets done before the Select-A-Seat this Saturday?

Atlanta Flames Fan

May 18th, 2011
8:37 am

A deal to save the Thrashers: practially nil
Finalizing a deal to move: 90%

sisu

May 18th, 2011
8:40 am

Sad, that is all one can say. It is all about the 60…hope the ones willing to do this see the Moose fold.

HockeyLove

May 18th, 2011
8:45 am

Waddell is the one in charge of finding buyers? Does he have another five year plan??

Puck Like A Porn Star

May 18th, 2011
8:53 am

Get the tar and feathers ready then…

PMC

May 18th, 2011
8:53 am

If Waddell does this job as well as he did finding talent…..they may be here another 20 years.

kiss it goodbye

May 18th, 2011
9:00 am

@PMC well that is a good point! Whoo Hoo everybody go select a seat this weekend! Maybe the Balkan will be there to greet us and we can convince him to at least buy the Thrashers if nothing else.
But you guys all know why the AS wants the Thrash out of town right? We all know that new owners would do a much better job and ice a better team and MAKE money. So does AS and that just kills their ego to be seen as the hacks they are.

Thomas Magnum

May 18th, 2011
9:13 am

Everyone should go listen to this interview with Dan Bouchard the former Atlanta Flame. He gives a Canadian radio station the low down on the Flames leaving Atlanta and the Atlanta Spirit.

http://www.tsn.ca/window/podcastcentre.aspx?xmlURL=http://www2.tsn.ca/podcasts/tsnradiopodcast.xml&mp3URL=http://podcast.tsn.ca/tsnradio/bouchard_051611.mp3

HillMan

May 18th, 2011
9:20 am

Could the sale of the Hawks and the Bulb force the NHL to take another look at the ASG and push them to find a local owner after they get a few bucks back in their pockets? Or couldn’t the new arena owner want 43 dates on their calendar where they get revenue so they lower their nigthly fees to make it more attractive for the team to stay?

Just asking.

EA

May 18th, 2011
9:33 am

I was going to take a day off from the message boards, but I just have to comment on the D. Bourchard interview. Unbelievable. Thanks Thomas. Waddell and Co. are so far beyond stupid, it is truly amazing.

tbone

May 18th, 2011
9:37 am

Can someone local get Dan on the radio or a interview in the paper to talk about this. Shame we have to go out of the country to find it.

Atlanta Flames Fan

May 18th, 2011
9:44 am

@Hillman

Short answer: NO.

The NHL has a conflict of interest and WANT THE THRAHERS TO MOVE. They need the $60M relocation fee to cover their losses in Phoenix.

EA

May 18th, 2011
9:45 am

So far every sports writer in Atlanta has chimed in on the story. One of them could talk to Waddell, but I doubt he would even comment on the interview

jimcee

May 18th, 2011
9:50 am

So basically the Goldwater Group in Arizona with its threat of a lawsuit held up the Coyotes sale which by all accounts would have gone through and now results in Atlanta (a much better hockey market than Phoenix) potentially losing its NHL franchise for a second time in 31 years unless local investors step up.

EA

May 18th, 2011
9:58 am

Bouchard did say Glavine is still talking to some Atlanta business leaders whatever that means. That seems to the only hope unless the Hawks deal does not go through and the Balkan is legit. Bettman is nowhere to be found. Maybe someone at the AJC can track him down.

Puck Like A Porn Star

May 18th, 2011
10:04 am

Wow, that radio interview with Bouchard was eye-opening! Waddell thinks goaltending is a myth?! No wonder we’ve never won a playoff game!!

The new owner better get the former Flames involved, so we can finally honor our hockey past and get some real hockey brains behind this team’s management.

Has Sage of Blueland heard that interview yet? S/he should love hearing how Donny screwed the pooch from day one.

Deport Santana

May 18th, 2011
10:25 am

we don’t need proof this entire lump of dookie was run poorly. a franchise that can barely take any steps forward in more than a decade..and promotes someone who should have been fired long ago says all you need to know. then again DW’s job was to keep the team a bottom feeder and truth be told, he did his job. my personal sentiments regarding the NHL is that they are not hurting for money, what’s the 60 million to them? they’ll get that almost daily considering the deal with Vs. and NBC. it boils down to how the ASG conduct business and Bettman has clearly voiced his disdain toward their method, in fact I am pretty sure Gary mentioned all the countless lawsuits our “owners” have been in since day 1 of ‘owning’ the team. Would it have been different had McDavid been the rightful owner? I would think so. No one cares about Thrasher fans, we are the minority in the NHL.

Sharon

May 18th, 2011
10:32 am

QUESTION:

How do you tell when Bruce Levenson is lying to you?

ANSWER:

His lips are moving, and another man’s genitalia is nowhere near them.

JS

May 18th, 2011
10:36 am

Wow, the owner of the Padres? That is a franchise I want to emulate. They are almost the Pirates of the west. The very few times they have made the playoffs, they got drummed in the first round. Perfect fit for Atlanta. Why can’t Atlanta find a real prospect?

Deport Santana

May 18th, 2011
10:44 am

I guess the good thing or what counts as hope in this is that TSN, Nazi Canada’s main source of hockey news isn’t all over this. They’re on deathwatch.. but it’s not as bad as I thought it would be, our media seems more like the wolves at this point.

TSN is either too busy with the playoffs or none of these “imminent sales” to True North are taking place. People have kicked the tires, that’s accurate..but the lil’ johns and Glavine’s are not major players..too much speculation about the Balkan and the Hawks independent sale complicates things to say the least. Is time on our side, the longer this draws out and with the ASG it will be drawn out, there may at least be another season in which the Yotes will take some of the heat off of our team. Our guesses are as good as Kincade’s at this point. It’s hard to tell what side the AJC is on.

Ugh

May 18th, 2011
10:53 am

This makes me sick. I can’t imagine hockey gone again……. I’ve lived in GA my whole life and Hockey became my favorite sport. I don’t understand the people that say you have to choose Hockey or Football; I love them both. Sad sad events. C’mon Glavine, put something together!! This town will support you!

Joe Johnson

May 18th, 2011
10:54 am

I don’t care who sales or who goes as long as I get my 24 mil next year for only playing at 1/2 speed again…..

SportsFan

May 18th, 2011
11:28 am

Deport Santana – first, your name already shows how classless you are. Second, why are you calling our friends to the North “Nazi Canada”? TSN does do some reporting on it. If you get the network or view the videos it was discussed on the broadcast last night.

SoutherFriedHockey

May 18th, 2011
11:34 am

Just listened to the interview. Can someone email that to Bettman? Just confirms what we already knew regarding how ASG was trying to run this team. It also added alot of clarity to the Flames siuation.
I am hoping against hope that somehow the team gets to stay, that we can invlove the Flames alumni and get the chance to prove this can be a successful market.

foncused

May 18th, 2011
11:36 am

Pretty simple . . . put a good product on the ice, people come out. Just look at the Chicago Blackhawks and Atlanta Thrashers attendance comparisons since 2001.

http://espn.go.com/nhl/attendance/_/year/2004

2001-02: 15,568, rank 23rd, Thrashers ranked 28th
2002-03: 14,794, rnak 24th, Thrashers ranked 28th
*2003-04: 13,253, rank 27th, 15,121, Thrashers ranked 22nd
*2005-06: 13,318, rank 29th, 15,550, Thrashers ranked 23rd
*2006-07: 12,727, rank 29th, 16,240, Thrashers ranked 21st Blackhawks – No Playoffs, finished 5th Thrashers – Lost in quarterfinals
2007-08: 16,814, rank 19th, 15,831, Thrashers ranked 22nd Blackhawks – No Playoffs, finished 3rd
2008-09: 22,247, rank 1st, Thrashers ranked 29th Blackhawks – Lost in Conference Finals
2009-10: 21,356, rank 1st, Thrashers ranked 28th Blackhawks – Won Stanley Cup
2010-11: 21,423, rank 1st, Thrashers ranked 28th Blackhawks – Lost in quarterfinals

In 3 of the 9 years, the Thrashers outdrew one of the “Original 6″ by over 2,000 fan in each of those 3 years. Ironically, it was around the same time that the Thrashers were actually good and exciting.

So please don’t tell me that this was/is Atlanta not supporting the team. We were there. Where were the owners and the General Manager?

Joe "SLOW" Johnson

May 18th, 2011
12:11 pm

Ya know the Thrashers sales in going to be all botched up. D-Wad is in charge of due diligence.

OHL

May 18th, 2011
12:24 pm

foncused you need to get your facts straight. The owner of the Blackhawks was blacking out local home games from being shown on tv. Don’t you realize THAT is the reason fans were upset and didn’t show up? You can’t compare anyone in the league to Chicago. When your team was “good and exciting” as you say, you couldn’t crack the top 20 in attendance and your tv ratings are 2nd worst in the league only ahead of the Miami market.

Steve-o

May 18th, 2011
12:26 pm

@Thomas Magnum,
Thanks for the link. Interesting interview.

Dan Bouchard is correct that the mayor and city don’t care about the Thrashers leaving (the interviewer seemed surpised to hear that). It’s amazing to me that Kasim Reed has not voiced a word of support for the team. Doesn’t he care about the loss of jobs, the loss of revenue to businesses near the arena, the loss of prestige in losing a major league team?

Thrashers Fan

May 18th, 2011
12:38 pm

Why was my comment deleted? All I did was provide email addresses for Gary Bettman and some of the Atlanta Spirit owners, something anyone can find by doing a little searching on google. These folks need to hear it from the fans!

goose

May 18th, 2011
1:14 pm

Steve-o I believe that Reed has given his voice of support to the Thrashers staying he just isn’t really going to do anything

Joe Friday

May 18th, 2011
1:34 pm

“my personal sentiments regarding the NHL is that they are not hurting for money, what’s the 60 million to them? they’ll get that almost daily considering the deal with Vs. and NBC.”

This is what’s bugging me. Kincade has latched onto this fairy tale that the league wants to let us move so they get their mitts on the $60m transfer fee. Baloney. That’s $2m per club. Ooh, each club can afford a new #5 dman now. That’s a complete red herring, they’re not throwing us under the bus to get $2m per club, that’s ludicrous. There’s more to the story than the $60m relo fee

Steve-o

May 18th, 2011
1:39 pm

@goose,
Well, that’s great! Talk about being proactive, mayor. Seriously, though, why should the NHL care about keeping the franchise here if the city itself doesn’t is so apathetic?

Steve-o

May 18th, 2011
1:40 pm

Typo: that should read: “if the city itself is so apathetic.”

Atlanta Flames Fan

May 18th, 2011
1:50 pm

@Joe Friday,
As an added bonus, the NHL no longer will have to deal with ASG.

And I do believe that the $60M is a big deal to the NHL.

Robert

May 18th, 2011
2:03 pm

check out Chris Vivlamores comments on You Tube with a sports station intreview in Toronto…Chris has it bang on !!!!

jd

May 18th, 2011
2:03 pm

MEMO to those planning a “rally” at the Gulch this weekend. I can’t think of worse planning for a rally than on a Spring weekend in the middle of the day at The Gulch. I know there’s a select a seat going on… but really? The Gulch? Really? I know we’re desparate… but it’s going to look really bad when less than 100 people show up for the huge “rally”. Please think of something better than this…

Guffman

May 18th, 2011
2:30 pm

@ jimcee: Don’t blame the Goldwater Institute of Arizona. You wanted that group to hold up the Phoenix sale. You wanted a busted deal in Phoenix. A busted deal in Phoenix would have meant that Phoenix would be shipped to Winnipeg, leaving the Thrashers without a relocation option. Unfortunately for you guys, Glendale is subsidizing the team for another year, taking them off the table for now.

Well… it looks like the NHL profitted from Atlanta. $80M expansion fee plus $60M relocation fee. The relocation fee is a bit of a joke though. I don’t recall the NHL earning relocation fees on other team moves, which would suggest that the NHL wanted it to subsidize the Phoenix losses.

Remember, Bettman told the NHL owners that they wouldn’t have to write a cheque for the Phoenix debacle. Since Phoenix is costing the NHL head office some money, they need to recoup it elsewhere and that looks to be Atlanta. It is a scam guys.

Hockeyfan

May 18th, 2011
3:00 pm

Chris Viv,
why was there a bed behind you on your Cinesport interview? Couldnt you find a better location to skype from? Maybe the Cheetah?

foncused

May 18th, 2011
3:34 pm

@OHL – Thanks for the info . . . I applaud you for setting the record straight with such class and dignity. The trolls on these boards who throw their garbage and attack people for wanting to support their home team is disgusting.

You simply could have said – “hey foncused, just so you know, the owners were blacking out the home games during that time and the fans were protesting. Just thought you ought to know there might be an alternate reason for the numbers”

But instead you attack me. What was the purpose?

Our team was exciting to watch and be a part of. And while we may not have cracked the top 20, where are the Islanders? I am guessing that the Devils, Capitals, Blues, Islanders and Ducks were all blacking out their games too? That MUST be why their attendance during the same time was below the Thrashers? It couldnt be that there teams were terrible . . no there MUST be other reasons.

Because if we actually admit that good teams bring out fans, then we have helped to prove that fan support is based upon a winning product . . no matter the market.

Have a great life OHL . .

OHL

May 18th, 2011
5:53 pm

foncused, I’m sorry if you felt like I was attacking you, I didn’t use any profane terms like I’ve seen on many boards or call you names. The problem is that tone doesn’t come across well in e-mails, blogs, etc. So forgive me.

But let’s keep trying to get the facts straight. The Islanders are a profitable as of now and they will explode with profits if Wang gets his vote this summer. See my banter with “PMC” to follow why that is true. The Devils may not draw well but they get to profitability the same way the Isles do – local tv revenue. Fox Sport NY pays a whole lot more money to the Isles and Devils than what your Fox Sports pays to the Thrashers. Dasherboards earn a lot more money in the Meadowlands than what they sell for in Philips. So again, it’s not just the gate, but all forms of revenue that can determine if a franchise is financially healthy or not. Those teams are. You also mention the Capitals. They are in a market that will never be considered for relocation in bad years because they actually have very good hockey interest in not just DC, but look at the ratings that places like Baltimore and Richmond provide whenever the Caps are on national TV. That’s good for the NHL thus the Caps are staying put. Then you mentioned St. Louis. Again, another market that tunes into hockey when it comes to the Stanley Cup Finals, the Winter Classic, the Olympics. So the Blues can ride out the bad years more easily than the Thrashers and make for a good hockey market. Then, they can be profitable beyond just gate receipts in the good years. That leaves just Anaheim and I have to agree that I don’t think that they should’ve gotten a 2nd team when the Kings are already there. But they are never mentioned when it comes to teams in trouble, so they must be doing something right.

Any city will support a winning team. The question is will a city support a team in down years because no one wins all the time, so you have to be able to ride out the bad years which Atlanta can’t seem to do. And will they support hockey when their local team is not involved? That’s why I have brought up nielsen ratings for things like the Winter Classic, the Stanley Cup Finals (for markets whose teams are not in it), the Olympics. And then even local tv ratings. You can tell who the hockey markets are when 5 cities are constantly in the top 10 for tv ratings like that (Pittsburgh, Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, St. Paul/Minny). Can you agree on those facts?

The Plan is Revealed

May 18th, 2011
6:19 pm

It is pretty clear what is going on here. The ASG (also known as the Clown Posse) needs the Trashers to be gone to make the arena operating rights a more valuable plum with more dates open, no ice to make or maintain, and a lower cost (higher to the Clown Posse though) for the Hawks and the operating rights without the Trashers. The Clown Posse does not want the Trashers gone, they NEED the Trashers gone. Especially when a Candaian billionaire will pay decent money for the franchise, and greases the skids where the NHL pockets $60mm in found money. Pretty transparent, and pretty sad at a number of levels.

OHL is wrong

May 18th, 2011
6:30 pm

OHL – having lived in Buffalo let me clarify a point you raise about the Sabres. They were truly dismal several years back (the Rigas era) and did not sell out games for quite a time, and were not the fan favorite in town, which was the Bills. TV ratings suffered too, and MSG has always blacked out games in the past for its own purposes. Once the team started winning, the fans returned. Buffalo is now a strong Sabres/hockey TV market, but a bad product on the ice has always impacted Sabres viewership numbers. Also, no matter how bad Rigas and Golisano were, they are rank amateurs compared to the Atlanta Spirit Group, which is itself the definition of failure. I’ve seen them all first hand.

OHL

May 18th, 2011
6:56 pm

The Sabres were bad for 1 year, 2002-03 and that was when their owner went bankrupt for his other company, the cable company maybe? It had nothing to do with the city or the team. Other than that they have been in the top half of the league, many times in the top 10. It’s tough to get a Leafs ticket there even. If MSG blacks out a few games, they still show 70+. Nothing like blacking out all 41 home games like the Blackhawks.

Have the Thrashers ever beat the Sabres in attendance?

OHL

May 18th, 2011
7:07 pm

Just looked up the stats. In 2002-03 the Sabres were owned by a bankrupt owner and the team was #27 in attendance. The Thrashers were owned by Ted Turner, had young stars like Kovalchuk and Heatley and were #28. You couldn’t beat the Sabres in their only bad year this decade and you had some of the hottest young talent in the league. The only tv markets that had higher ratings than Buffalo in the last Winter Classic were either Pittsburgh or Washington, the 2 teams that played in the event. And Buffalo was playing the Bruins that night and Boston was the #7 market for the Winter Classic. The Boston and Buffalo tv markets were in the top 10 for the Winter Classic tv ratings and their teams were playing while it was on. Can you honestly say anything bad about them after knowing that?

Tim

May 18th, 2011
9:38 pm

In case you have realized Jeremy, nobody has made an offer to keep the Thrashers in Atlanta. NOBODY