Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie's attempt to purchase the Nashville Predators has hit a roadblock, according to team owner Craig Leipold.
The Predators boss advised the National Hockey League in a letter that he no longer wanted the league to consider the sale to Balsillie until a binding agreement can be completed.
Jim Balsillie may not get a chance to move the Nashville Predators to Hamilton.
(Mark Lennihan/Associated Press)
"We did send the NHL a letter today requesting that it not do any further due diligence on Jim Balsillie's offer for the Nashville Predators until we reach a binding agreement," Leipold said in a statement on Friday. "If Jim is interested in reaching a binding agreement, we are prepared to move forward."
Balsillie, the co-CEO of BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion, agreed to buy the team from Leipold for $220 million US on May 24 in a transfer of ownership, but the term sheet was non-binding. The holdup for the deal prevented the NHL's 30 teams from voting on the sale.
Balsillie had already started a process to move the Predators to Hamilton if the franchise was able to opt out of the lease in Nashville after the sale.
A week after the announced sale, Balsillie reactivated a deal that gave him exclusive rights to negotiate a lease option for housing an NHL team at Hamilton's Copps Coliseum, news that caught Leipold by surprise.
Thousands of seasons tickets were sold after Hamilton's city council approved the agreement, which would have allowed the Copps Coliseum to be the home of the Predators.
However, at the board of governors meeting in New York this week, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said talks of Nashville relocating to Hamilton were "premature."
"Currently there isn't a fully completed application before the board of governors," Bettman said on Wednesday. "As a result, I think people are getting a little bit ahead of themselves on this entire issue.
"It isn't in any shape or form close to being ready for consideration as it relates to approval of an ownership change. I'm not exactly sure why people are focused on the Nashville Predators being anywhere other than in Nashville at this particular point in time."
Last December, Balsillie withdrew his $175-million US offer to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins after it was rejected by owner Mario Lemieux.With files from the Canadian Press