By Chris Vivlamore and Tim Tucker
It may be the 11th hour, but some Atlanta hockey fans are clinging to hope.
With the Atlanta Spirit ownership group deep into negotiations to sell the Thrashers to True North Sports and Entertainment, which would move the franchise to Winnipeg, current and prospective season-ticket holders plan to attend a select-a-seat event here Saturday.
“Our select-a-seat event will take place as planned at Philips Arena,” Thrashers president Don Waddell said Friday.
Team officials and owners declined to comment on the negotiations with the Winnipeg group.
One person familiar with the negotiations, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the fluid and sensitive situation, said no agreement had been reached as of Friday afternoon but that talks and progress continued. The person said complex issues were being hammered out and that it’s difficult to predict when a deal might be completed.
Talks also continued with a prospective buyer
While negotiations between the Atlanta Spirit and True North Sports and Entertainment continue, no deal has been reached to sell the Thrashers and relocate the team to Winnipeg.
Despite a published report Thursday night saying a deal was done and would be announced Tuesday, officials with the Thrashers, True North and the NHL said no such agreement has been reached.
Several Thrashers officials told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Thursday that the report was unfounded. The Winnipeg Free Press reported that a high-ranking True North official denied the report.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, speaking earlier in the day on NHL Live, said no deal has been made to move the Thrashers to Winnipeg– and criticized reports of a possible move. However, he did not rule out relocation unless someone steps forward to own the team here.
“We get reports, speculation, that the team’s gone. And there’s no deal,” Bettman said. “I can tell you that with certainty that there is no
There is currently just one group in active negotiations with the Atlanta Spirit interested in purchasing the Thrashers and keeping the franchise in Atlanta.
The group, not from Atlanta, is working with team president Don Waddell. A deal is not imminent, according to Waddell.
“My job is to try to find a buyer who will keep the team in Atlanta,” Waddell told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “As long as they keep taking my phone calls, I’ll keep working.”
Earlier this month, Waddell was dealing with two prospective buyers, neither local, to keep the Thrashers in Atlanta.
Negotiations also continue between Atlanta Spirit officials and True North Sports and Entertainment on a deal to purchase the Thrashers and relocate to Winnipeg. Such a deal is also not imminent, however an agreement would likely need to be reached in the near future to accommodate relocation.
An exclusive negotiating agreement has not been signed allowing multiple on-going negotiations.
The AJC’s Melissa Ruggieri spoke to Lil Jon for another story this weekend. While she was at it, Melissa asked about Lil Jon’s rumored interest in buying the Thrashers.
Here is what he had to say:
“I love the Thrashers, but I’m not investing in them. The one good thing about that rumor is that it’s stirring up a lot of people talking and saying we gotta keep them here, it brings awareness to it. But I’m not investing. That’s a lot of money to buy a professional hockey team! I’ll help then out with some awareness, though.”
Here are the details, as provided to me the Thrashers fan club, for an event to be held Saturday to support the Thrashers remaining in Atlanta. It will be held in the Gulch by Philips Arena.
Wear your team clothing and bring your signs for pictures. Bring your cameras and phones. During the final hour we will get everyone assembled for a group photo. Photos go to Gary Bettman, the AJC, on facebook, etc, for all to see that we love our team!
It is very important to show visible (and vocal) support for the Thrashers, so really try be there, at least for the last hour! We are thinking about trying to get people like Dan Kamal, Jay Bird, maybe Jeff Schultz to speak
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
Sorry folks. Got so caught up in my news story about Atlanta Spirit and True North negotiating about a possible sale that I didn’t give you a place to comment.
Here is the start of the story, if you are late to the news.
The Atlanta Spirit are in negotiations with True North Sports and Entertainment on the sale of the Thrashers, which would result in relocation to Winnipeg, according to a person familiar with the NHL’s sale process.
A deal has not been completed and the parties have not entered into an exclusive negotiating agreement. It is also not known how long the two sides have been negotiating. However, the fact that talks are on-going could mean the Thrashers would relocate to Manitoba perhaps as soon as next season.
“I have never confirmed nor denied specific parties we have been talking to in regards to a possible sale of the Thrashers,” Atlanta Spirit co-owner Bruce Levenson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Monday.
While the Atlanta Spirit is looking to sell the Thrashers – with relocation a possibility – could the other NHL owners play a part in keeping the franchise in Atlanta?
It is possible.
Currently, there has not been a potential buyer – willing and/or able – that has taken more than the preliminary step to purchase the franchise with the intention of keeping the Thrashers in Atlanta. The search continues with ownership making several pleas for interested parties to step forward. True North Sports and Entertainment has the money and the arena in place to bring the NHL back to Winnipeg. The group first wanted to bring the Coyotes, a team owned by the league, back to Manitoba. When the City of Glendale voted to pay $25 million to keep the team it appeared that situation was settled. The Thrashers, very moveable, were next on the target list with an ownership group willing to sell.
However, is the Coyotes situation really settled? The NHL owners, who have already footed a large
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