NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ Nashville Predators owner Craig Leipold
confirmed Thursday he has signed a letter of intent to sell the
franchise to Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie for $220 million.
The terms of the deal, which must be approved by the NHL's Board
of Governors, call for it to be completed by June 30.
Leipold has owned the team since the NHL awarded the franchise
in June 1997, but decided to sell after exhausting all efforts to
attract more local business support and a local owner.
Balsillie, who withdrew a $175 million offer to buy the
Pittsburgh Penguins in December, said in a statement he is thrilled
to have a chance to buy the Predators. He is the co-CEO of
Blackberry makers Research in Motion Ltd.
Leipold was to speak at a Thursday afternoon news conference but
said in a statement issued beforehand that owning the franchise and
starting it from scratch has been the thrill of a lifetime.
``I know Jim shares my passion for the game and will be
committed to bringing this franchise a Stanley Cup," Leipold said.
Balsillie, who went through a sale process with the Penguins,
said he is respectful of all the ``due diligence" required before
the deal can close.
``This is still Craig Leipold's franchise until the deal is
completed, so for me to comment at this time on any number of
topics relative to the franchise would not be appropriate,"
Balsillie said in a statement.
He said he planned to visit Nashville, talk with Predators fans
and ``become more familiar with the community" once the deal is
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)