Asking Too Much?
One thing we can all agree on, Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer wants an NHL team. If the city of Phoenix didn’t renege on at least three separate occasions he’d be the owner of the Coyotes today.
Yes Hulsizer was recently given a tour of the Scottrade center by current Blues Chairman Dave Checketts but don’t confuse that by meaning Hulsizer is ready to cut a deal to purchase the club. (Some may have heard me report on 590 the Fan shortly after the draft, that a heavy hitter would soon be visiting St. Louis.)
Sources very close to Hulsizer tell me he is not interested in paying the $200 Million Checketts is asking for.
Sure Hulsizer has money but he’s also looking to make a smart business decision. Everyone is looking for the Terry Pegula’s (Owner of the Buffalo Sabres) of the world but in reality these guys are few and far between.
Any way you slice it, the current asking price is unsupported by the business model. In other words it’s pretty close to impossible to break even at $200 million.
Those close to Hulsizer tell me he’s a trader by nature and therefore will not pull the trigger on ego alone. Word is he’ll keep looking until he finds the right situation. When the NHL is asking for significantly less than $200 Million for their own team in Arizona it will be hard to find anyone to ante up the cash Checketts and company are seeking. The current deal includes the Blues, the lease to the building, as well as the AHL affiliate in Peoria.
Many people who have had the opportunity to dive into the Blues books share the belief that under the current system, there is no financial model or compelling reason why you would pay the current asking price when the revenues just aren’t there. I’m told Hulsizer isn’t running away from St. Louis but he’s going to stay patient until the right deal comes along. As we know St. Louis is not the only team for sale.
Apparently Hulsizer is of the belief that unless there’s a significant change in the next CBA, paying close to $200 million makes little sense. I should point out Minority Owner Tom Stillman shares the same opinion.
It will be interesting to see just how long TowerBrook Capital Partners are willing to hold out and wait for the right buyer to come along. There’s no question they want out and at some point the patience is going to run out as well.
There’s no question Dave Checketts is a terrific salesman but he’s also dealing with some pretty savvy people on the other side of the table. At the end of the day the market is what it is in St. Louis. The team receives great support and the future looks bright for NHL hockey in St. Louis. The roster is strong and GM Doug Armstrong has done an admirable job especially when you consider what he has to work with.
It’s unrealistic to expect someone to march in and hike up ticket prices in an effort to drum up revenues. Fans in St. Louis won’t be willing to pay the prices we see in some of the bigger hockey markets in the NHL. You can make the argument the revenues are maxed out in relation to the Blues. If they weren’t Checketts and company would have found a way for it to work financially.
Yes there are interested buyers in the St. Louis Blues, but as long as Checketts is looking to hit a grand slam the challenge is steep.
More to come,
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