Thursday, August 16, 2007

More interest in Blazers . . . perhaps

From The Daily News of Thursday, Aug. 17, 2007 . . .
The Jim Pattison Group would be interested in making an offer to purchase the Kamloops Blazers should the WHL franchise go on the open market.
Rick Arnish, the president of the Kamloops-based Jim Pattison Broadcast Group, confirmed that Thursday afternoon.
“If there was an opportunity for the Jim Pattison Group to look at the options, if there was an opportunity to purchase . . . we would be interested,” Arnish said.
Arnish pointed out that the Kamloops Blazers Sports Society, whose board of directors has received two offers to purchase, hasn’t said the team is for sale.
River City Hockey Inc. (RCH), comprising Vancouver businessman Tom Gaglardi and ex-Blazers players Shane Doan, Jarome Iginla, Mark Recchi and Darryl Sydor, offered $6,100,176 for the franchise on July 18.
On Aug. 10, Mike Priestner, who owns the Edmonton-based Mike Priestner Automotive Group, offered to pay $3,626,100 to the society for 51 per cent of the franchise. That would leave the society holding 49 per cent. Priestner’s proposal places a value of $7,110,000 on the Blazers.
If the franchise was put up for sale, Arnish said, and if it was a fair and open process with offers being accepted, the Pattison Group definitely would look at the situation.
“I can’t speak for the (society) directors,” Arnish said, “but if they do go that route, we would be interested.”
Pattison once was involved in the World Hockey Association. He owned the Vancouver Blazers before transferring the franchise to Calgary where it became the Cowboys and played for two seasons. He folded the team on May 31, 1977, amid disappointing season-ticket sales.
According to Forbes, the Pattison conglomerate, which includes billboards, grocery stores, automobile dealerships, packaging and broadcast interests, is worth about US$3.8 billion.
Arnish first expressed an interest in the Blazers at least three years ago in a conversation with Gerry Bell, who spent the 2005-06 season as the team’s CEO.
Bell said yesterday that all he wants is to see a process that is fair to all offers and one that ends in an amicable resolution.
During Bell’s year with the club, he examined various contracts and business deals involving the franchise and made recommendations to the board.
Bell said it is important that the value of the franchise be established before it is sold. He also questioned whether the time is right to sell the franchise, that a year from now may be better.
With the team not having made the playoffs in 2005-06 and having won 40 games last season, all signs point to more success, Bell said, something that can only put an ever higher value on the franchise.
First, though, the franchise has to get through the Aug. 23 extraordinary general meeting that has been called by the board. At that meeting, the members are expected to deal with a special requisition from RCH asking for a vote on its offer.
“The team could change hands without the shareholders even looking at the (Priestner) offer,” Bell said. “I really would like the Gaglardi group to withdraw their requisition, but I don’t know if they are prepared to do that.”
Bell said that the withdrawal of the requisition would allow a process to begin through which the value of the franchise could be determined and offers could be solicited and analysed, with one eventually being selected.
Bell said he has not spoken with any members of the society’s board of directors about a possible sale of the club, nor does he intend to speak to them.
“I intentionally haven’t spoken with them,” he said. “I don’t want this to turn into the Gerry Bell Show.”

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