Tom Gaglardi may have some competition in his bid to buy the Dallas Stars.
Chuck Greenberg, the lawyer and former Texas Rangers chief executive officer who also helped steer his buddy Mario Lemieux's ownership efforts with the Pittsburgh Penguins, told the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., this week that he may submit a higher bid for the NHL franchise. Gaglardi, the Vancouver businessman who has been working on buying the Stars for months, offered $267-million (all currency U.S.), which is being used as a stalking-horse bid by the court.
Kate Hairopoulos has the details here in the Dallas Morning News' Stars Blog.
At this point, it is hard to see Greenberg as a serious threat to Gaglardi's plans to become an NHL owner. Greenberg left the baseball field following a dispute with Nolan Ryan, his partner in the Rangers, and made his interest in the Stars known several weeks ago. But he does not have great wealth himself and it is not known if he has any partners.
The biggest threat to Gaglardi, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, said he does not plan to make a bid for the Stars and the 50 per cent of the American Airlines Center that comes with them. Cuban owns the other half of the arena along with his NBA team and said he looks forward to working with Gaglardi.
Dallas oil man Doug Allen, who owns a minor-league hockey team, is the other player in the Stars ownership picture. He has been looking at the team for months and says he remains interested but he has yet to submit any sort of bid.
Elsewhere on the ownership front, things went quiet after New Jersey Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek threw cold water on reports his missed payment on a $100-million bank loan could put his team into bankruptcy. Vanderbeek, who is carrying another bank loan of $180-million through the Devils' operating company and is fighting with the city of Newark over millions of dollars in unpaid rent at the Prudential Center, made it known he plans to buy out partners Ray Chambers and Mike Gilfallin.
Those in the know in NHL ownership circles think the Devils could be the league's next big financial crisis. The root of the problem, as it is in most cases in the NHL, is poor ticket sales. When the Devils moved 25 kilometres down the New Jersey Turnpike four years ago to the new arena in Newark, a lot of their fans, who weren't known for jamming their old arena, declined to follow.
In the wake of the bankruptcy talk, the Devils insisted their new season-ticket sales were up 130 per cent over last season, without saying how many season-ticket holders they have.
The Devils, insiders say, are especially hurting when it comes to the premium seats. Apparently, a lot of the contractors who worked on the Prudential Center wound up buying club seats and their renewal rates were rather low once the initial contracts were up.
This is not to suggest there was any arm-twisting going on when it came to the relationship between a contract for work or supplies for the arena and buying club seats or luxury suites. But the practice is not unknown in professional sports.
The late Harry Ornest, for example, had no qualms about making sure his suppliers did their bit. He maintained it made perfect business sense and would not hand over a contract to supply soft drinks for the CFL's Toronto Argonauts, for example, until he knew just how many season tickets the drink company bought.
But it can become a problem when the seat buyer bolts at the earliest opportunity.