Craig Leipold agrees to buy Wild
Craig Leipold agreed to purchase the NHL's Minnesota Wild on Thursday, more than a month after selling the Nashville Predators to local investors.
Leipold is buying the majority shares of Bob Naegele and his group, who formed Minnesota Sports and Entertainment in 1997 — the year the city was awarded an NHL expansion franchise.
The deal is expected to take several months to close pending approval by the league and the city of St. Paul, according to Minnesota Sports and Entertainment vice-chairman Jac Sperling.
The group also owns the minor league Houston Aeros, the Minnesota Swarm of the National Lacrosse League and the Xcel Energy Center arena where the Wild play.
A native of Minnesota, Naegele has seen the team sell out every game since the game's return in 2000 — seven years after the Minnesota North Stars were allowed to leave for Dallas.
Leipold, who resides in Racine, Wis., completed the sale of the Predators on Dec. 7 for $193 million US. Leipold said he lost $70 million since the NHL awarded him the franchise in 1997. The Predators began play the following season.
"I love the sport of hockey and am very excited to continue the tradition of Wild hockey here in Minnesota — the State of Hockey," Leipold said in a statement.
"I have admired Bob Naegele and the entire Wild organization since the first puck dropped in 2000. It is a true privilege to become part of the organization and the hockey community in Minnesota. I want to thank Bob for this unique opportunity, and I am pleased that he will consider continuing as my partner in the organization."
Naegele said he picked the appropriate time to sell the Wild to Leipold.
"Our goals were to return the NHL to the State of Hockey, to establish a winning tradition dedicated to the hockey fans of Minnesota, and to ensure the long-term success of the Wild," said Naegele.
"It is now time to pass the torch on to a new owner who will ensure that long-term success. Craig is as committed to winning the Stanley Cup as I have been, and he represents proven, committed leadership, hockey passion and Midwestern values that have been the bedrock of our organization's success to this point — and will serve as the foundation for the success of the future."
With files from the Associated Press