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Hamilton NHL ticket deposits leap past Nashville's base



DAVID SHOALTS
Globe and Mail Update

Two days into the campaign, the number of people putting deposits on season tickets for a potential National Hockey League team in Hamilton overtook the number of season-ticket holders of the Nashville Predators.

By early Friday afternoon, Jim Balsillie, who is trying to buy the Predators, sold almost 10,000 seats and luxury suites for Copps Coliseum, where the team will play if it is moved from Nashville. The Predators currently have just under 9,000 season-ticket holders.

There were 6,533 seats sold in the lower bowl at Copps for a deposit $1,000 each, while 3,367 seats in the upper bowl went for deposits of $500 for a total of 9,900. Also, 64 of the 70 proposed suites were reserved for $5,000 each.

In the meantime, a group of local business people in Nashville said it is considering a bid for the Predators if Balsillie's purchase, said to be worth up to $238-million (U.S.), falls through. Balsillie and his lawyer, Richard Rodier, are working on a purchase agreement with Predators owner Craig Leipold. Once that is in place, it will go to the NHL's board of governors for approval, although no one knows when that will happen. The latest group of buyers cannot make a bid unless Balsillie, the co-CEO of BlackBerry manufacturer Research In Motion Inc., is no longer in the running.

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