Nashville’s future in doubt after sale

The
Associated Press

Craig
Leipold patiently worked to build an NHL franchise and turned the Nashville
Predators into one of the league’s best teams. If they win a Stanley Cup, it
won’t be with him.

Leipold
confirmed Thursday he has signed a letter of intent to sell the franchise to
Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie for $220 million after losing $70 million in
10 years of ownership.

“I’m
tired of losing money,” Leipold said.

Balsillie
is co-CEO of Blackberry makers Research in Motion Ltd.

The sale
must be approved by the NHL’s Board of Governors.

Leipold
has owned the team since paying most of the $80 million for the franchise
awarded in June 1997, the first team of the NHL’s last expansion phase.

But he
decided to sell after losing $15 million this season on top of $12 million last
season. The Predators finished third in the league standings this season with a
franchise-record 110 points but averaged just 13,815 in paid attendance.

“I
have come to the conclusion that I cannot make it work here,” Leipold
said.

“We
are one of the elite teams in this league, and we are by far the lowest-revenue
team in the league.”