Balsillie's bid to buy the Predators nixed: report

Nashville Predators owner Craig Leipold has decided to walk away from Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie's $238-million US offer to buy the team, accoring to a report in the National Post.

Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie's dream of owning an NHL team won't be realized anytime soon, according to a report in Thursday's National Post.

Sourcestold the Post that Nashville Predators owner Craig Leipold officially informed Balsillie on Wednesday that he would walk away fromhis $238-million US offer to buy the team and possibly move it to Hamilton.

Instead, the newspaper said, Leipold plans to sell the team to California businessman William (Boots) DelBiaggio for a more modest $190 million.

DelBiaggio,who in the past has indicated hewould like to put a team in Kansas City,said last week that he was no longer involved in the chase for the Predators. Buta source told the Canadian Press on Thursday that DelBiaggio is back in talks with Leipold.

"We are currently free to explore any and all options regarding the sale of the Nashville Predators," Gerry Helper,the team'ssenior vice-president of communications and development, said in a statement. "However, until and unless there is a binding agreement in place, we do not plan to comment on the status of Predators ownership.

"We will not comment on rumours and speculation."

Balsillie, co-CEO of BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, which is based in Waterloo, Ont., signed a non-binding letter of intent on May 24 to buy the Predators from Leipold.

A week after his announced agreement with Leipold, 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 and reportedly caused him to have second thoughts about the proposed sale.

Thousands of season-ticket reservations were sold after Hamilton city council approved the agreement, which would have allowed Copps Coliseum to be the home of the Predators.

Last December, Balsillie withdrew his $175-million offer to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins after it was rejected by owner Mario Lemieux.

DelBiaggio was named as part of a group that was in talks about buying the team and moving it to Kansas City, which recently built a $276-million arena and is looking for a principaltenant.

Kansas City did not fare well in its only previous attempt at hosting an NHL franchise.

The Scouts joined the league as an expansion team for the 1974-75 season, but poor attendance figures prompted the team to move after two seasons to Denver, where it was known as the Colorado Rockies. Thefranchise relocatedagain in 1982, when it became the New Jersey Devils.

With files from the Canadian Press