Head of group buying NHL's Predators says profit is not the intent

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David Freeman, chief executive officer of 36 Venture Capital LLC, heads up the group of local businessmen and one California venture capitalist that put down US$10 million Wednesday and signed a letter of intent to buy the Predators for $193 million, a deal they hope to close by the end of September.

Freeman said on 106.7 The Fan in Nashville that the group doesn't expect to lose money.

"But beyond that, we are not in it for a profit," he said. "We don't want a profit. Whatever extra we make will go back in."

The only partner from outside the Nashville area is William (Boots) Del Biaggio III, who will have to sell his minority share in the San Jose Sharks as this deal closes.

Del Biaggio previously offered $190 million for the team, and has an agreement with the Sprint Center in Kansas City to own any NHL team relocating there. He will be a minority owner in this deal.

However, Del Biaggio said in a conference call Wednesday with Nashville reporters that once this deal goes through, he will not have the agreement with the Kansas City arena, but plans to work inside the NHL to help put a team there in the future.

Freeman said he will serve as chairman of the group and that Del Biaggio will also have an extensive role because "we want to tap into his contacts and his experience."

But Freeman said the group realizes that Del Biaggio would like to have his own team one day and that was considered in drafting the deal.

"If the opportunity ever presents itself in the future, where through NHL expansion he happens to get presented with an opportunity, then we will buy him out and shake hands and wish him the very best of luck wherever else he might go," Freeman said.

Predators owner Craig Leipold has been trying to sell his franchise because he said he has lost $70 million since being awarded the team in June 1997.

He says this group and its local ties to businesses will help the Predators succeed in boosting corporate support from 35 per cent. That is nearly half what other NHL teams enjoy.

As for its future, Freeman said he intends for the Predators to stay in Nashville.

"It's Nashville's team, and if Nashville supports it, it will be here long after I'm dead," he said.



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