It finally happened. NashvillePost.com has learned that after weeks of circling the Nashville Predators, a local investor group landed on Craig Leipold's doorstep yesterday morning and made him a formal offer for the team. Multiple sources have confirmed this news on the condition of anonymity.
There are no details yet on the size of the offer, as no one publicly associated directly with the deal is talking. David Freeman, former chief executive officer of Commodore Medical Services and now CEO of 36 Venture Capital, is putting the group together. Herb Fritch, CEO of insurer HealthSpring, is also among the group.
Chase Cole, an attorney with Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis who has been working with the group, declined comment. Freeman offered a "no comment." But he reissued the following statement via e-mail:
"A group of Nashvillians continues to pursue a purchase of the Predators on behalf of the Nashville community. While we recognize the intense interest of the local community in the future of the team, we ask for your patience and understanding as we go through this confidential negotiation process. In deference to the club's request, we will be unable to offer any further public information or comment regarding our bid until a binding agreement is in place."
Confidentiality agreements are likely in place, and nobody wants to make the same mistake as Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie in having a lot of information made public before a binding agreement is in place.
Predators fans have been rooting for the local ownership group to step forward, and NashvillePost.com has reported that Leipold wanted to see the local group step up, even being open to offer something of a Nashville discount. That may mean the price the group would pay is somewhere below the $220 million or more Balsillie offered.
Meanwhile, William "Boots" Del Biaggio, who has a minority investment in the San Jose Sharks, may still be in the picture as a potential bidder.