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By Ken Whitehouse
06-14-2007 5:20 PM


NashvillePost.com has learned that a group of local businessmen, including some from the healthcare sector, is putting together an ownership proposal for the Nashville Predators. The bid would be offered only if current owner Craig Leipold's deal with Canadian businessman Jim Balsillie falls apart.

Those familiar with the deal acknowledge that they have not presented a proposal to Leipold and are prohibited from doing so while Balsillie's offer is on the table.

In the last few days, Balsillie has more than rankled the feathers of city leaders, Leipold, National Hockey League president Gary Bettman and members of the NHL Board of Governors with his insistence that the relocation of the team be considered at the same time his ownership application is considered. Also, Balsille has reportedly cut a deal with the city of Hamilton, Ontario that should the Preds move, it would be to Hamilton's arena.

Predators insiders have told NashvillePost.com that Leipold and Bettman were "irked" and not happy with Balsillie's actions and that Leipold especially was caught off-guard by Balsillie's moves.

Those same insiders have said that they have not had any discussions with any other possible owners and are barred from doing so because of the tentative agreement for the sale of the team by Leipold and Balsillie.

The potential suitors to the Predators are in the process of identifying additional members of their group. They are said to want to make sure that corporate and public support would be in place should they have the opportunity to make a run for the team. A representative of the would-be investors spoke to NashvillePost.com on condition of anonymity.

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Craig Leipold has been trying to get people like these would-be investors involved for the last 3 or 4 years. They all said no to minority ownership. The business community has been dropping support for the Preds over the same time period and giving it to the Titans football team instead. At the last minute these people wake up from their coma and want to purchase 100% of the team to keep it in Nashville? These last minute deals rarely work. I think that the Preds are already leaving after next season for Hamilton and maybe 2009 in Cambridge, Ontario.
 
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