Just one day after the Dallas Stars and Joe Nieuwendyk took a significant risk in keeping Brad Richards at the trade deadline, word comes this morning that the sale of the franchise could indeed be moving forward. Ken Campbell of The Hockey News reports this morning that according to his sources, Allen Americans owner Doug Miller has made an initial offer on the Dallas Stars:
THN.com has learned Dallas oilman Douglas Miller has made an offer to purchase the Stars, but there is also speculation Miller could be for Cuban what is known in business circles as a "stalking horse," someone who establishes the value of a business by making an offer before another party comes in with a more lucrative one.
In any event, Miller's offer is believed to be for about $110 million cash, but it would likely be publicly announced as somewhere in the $225 million range. That's because in addition to the purchase price, Miller would assume about $20 million in existing debt, most of which is owed to the NHL for the advancement of television and revenue sharing money to help keep the Stars afloat. Also built into the purchase price would be four years of losses estimated at about $25 million per year.
Now, we've heard from Ken Campbell before when it comes to the sale of the Stars and in the past the reports have generally proved to be more or less inaccurate. There might have been a hint of truth to them before, but overall these reports have been questionable at best.
It appears that this report is in fact accurate.
In fact, it appears that the speculation that Mark Cuban could be making a bid on the team is building and it seems that the one thing the lenders want -- a bidding war on the Dallas Stars -- could start to happen sometime over the next few months. When the Stars kept Brad Richards, this is likely the perfect scenario the lenders envisioned; bidders for the team fighting to purchase the franchise before Brad Richards is lost to free agency. Various reports indicate that there are indeed several interested buyers and this could be the first move in order to start the bidding process, establishing the value of the franchise before more serious bids are made.
Miller is the owner of the Allen Americans and is a local, very wealthy businessman who is known as a very big Dallas Stars and hockey fan. If you would ask me, Miller would be the ideal candidate to purchase the Stars as he knows more than anyone exactly what it was like nearly a decade ago when the team was at its height of popularity in Dallas and what it would take to get there once more. He knows how to sell hockey in Texas and he knows how to build a winner; the Allen Americans have consistently been the best in the CHL the two years of their existence.
Much more after the jump.
Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News has a post up this morning agreeing that this report could indeed be accurate, but notes that this is like on the start of more significant negotiations and that we shouldn't expect anything to happen too quickly.
Still, he notes that there is a thought that these buyers could now be making a push to purchase the team before the July 1 start of free agency, specifically tied to the effort in keeping Brad Richards long term.
Yesterday, a very spirited debate took place here on Defending Big D about just what the state of the sale might be and whether Joe Nieuwendyk has any insight into just how quickly the sale might be completed. The hockey world in general chastised Nieuwendyk for not trading Richards in light of the fact that apparently there was no chance in the world a sale is completed in time to keep him; now, just as it was before, it appears that the sale of the team is in fact moving forward -- albeit slower than all of us would like.
Monarch and the lenders (who essentially own the team at this point) are going to want top dollar for the franchise and won't accept a low offer. They are prepared to finance the team through the end of the season and then have nearly two months to completely sell the team before the free agency deadline, although their own deadline would likely be the start of next season when they would have to finance players' salaries once more.
While it seems that this initial offer of $225 million is much lower than we anticipated, we have to remember that this is just the starting point for negotiations and that there are now a number of buyers who are interested in purchasing the franchise. The hope, however, is that this offer is the start of the sale moving forward and that even if Cuban is involved the sale is made to the top bidder well in advance of the start of free agency on July 1.
Two weeks ago it was revealed that there are as many as six interested buyers and that Mark Cuban could be one of them. It's unknown whether he's working with Miller or not, although it's very likely the two could form an ownership group where Cuban would hold a significant stake in the team while Miller would be the de facto owner and run the organization. Cuban has stated in the past that he does not know hockey and if he were to consider purchasing the club it would have to be part of an ownership group.
Perhaps this is the first step in that process.
While Tom Gaglardi is definitely not involved an longer, Bill Gallacher is thought to be very interested once more. There is no indication of who else might be interested in purchasing the team or who might be among the fabled six that were reported a few weeks back.
Just as the Brad Richards saga ended -- or was at least temporarily delays -- the sale process of the Stars appears to be heating up. I guess Nieuwendyk knew something all along.