Thursday, February 14, 2008

Big Bucks for Bolts

Once again they're preparing to put up the SOLD sign on the Tampa Bay Lightning franchise, as Palace Sports and Entertainment has apprently come to an agreement with Hollywood movie and television producer Oren Koules and his OK Hockey hockey group.

The on and off again deal, was apparently almost in peril again this week as Koules financing agents Société Générale had reportedly pulled out of the sports franchise financing market in North America. However, Koules must have shaken a few sofa cushions over the last few days as he and his group somehow seem to have come up with the anticipated 200 million or so required to take control of the Bolts. Or maybe he has another Saw movie in the pipeline and is anticipating some astounding box office returns.

Koules was part of a collection of investors including former Columbus GM Doug Mclean who had previously put in a bid for the Lightning last year, however in what appears to have been some acrimonious infighting that deal fell apart before Gary Bettman could get to the bank with a cheque.

This time it appears that Koules is working with folks that are all on the same page, leaving him to be the face of the franchise should the i's get dotted and the t's crossed. It's expected that it will take the NHL roughly three months to close the deal and make the bank deposit.

How this impacts on the Lightning for this season remains to be seen, so far they've been rather quiet in the lead up to the trade deadline, with many suspecting that they would become mostly sellers as they unloaded salaries for the current ownership as they tried to make the team more attractive to investors.

Now that there seems to be an agreement of sorts to sell the team to Koules, it will be interesting to see what kind of instructions the Lightning are given as the days to the dealine countdown.

No comments: