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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Behind the Predators closed doors?

[If you haven't stayed up on the lawsuits that Preds minority owner Boots Del Biaggio is going through, read here, here, and maybe some other places...]

We may be about to receive a major peek at the negotiating that went on when the Predators and the Metro Sports Council negotiated the new lease terms as well as the details and deals worked out among the ownership group.

Metro/Davidson County (specifically the Sports Authority and Jon Cooper) have been served with a subpoena for documents related to William "Boots" Del Biaggio's new bankruptcy and lawsuit trouble.

The interesting part is that the subpoena actually calls for:

All communications, including documents transmitted, to or from William J Del Biaggio, II, any of his agents, employees, persons working on his behalf or for his benefit, or any group, partnership, or organization that includes Mr. Del Biaggio or in which he has an interest, concerning any negotiations or transactions involving the purchase or sale of the Nashville Predators or any interest therein.
Yikes. They have about a week to get all of this together.

The way that sounds to me, all documents the Sports Authority has discussing anything with the Predators will likely be involved, given that it must include any "organization or partnership" that Del Biaggio was a part of. I seriously wonder if the Preds ownership group itself will be getting a subpoena next. Might depend on what they get from the Sports Authority i guess.

I don't think the ownership group or the city purposely did anything illegal or even shady, but i think we may be about to get a fairly unprecedented look at the negotiating process and exactly how the financial situation between all parties was setup.

I'm thinking we should stay tuned for more...

The AP is reporting that Metro will "hold off" on taking "action" action against the Predators organization. Apparently Larry Thrailkill, a Brentwood based attorney (who was once President of the San Francisco 49ers) advised the Metro Sports Authority that Del Biaggio was in default of his agreement with the city. Exactly how he's in default, and how that impacts the Predators isn't stated in the article, though it did state the the Sports Authority has promised to let the Preds "fix the situation", whatever that means.

This is a little surprising to me since we've heard multiple times from ownership and the Sports Authority that this shouldn't affect operations since they have already cashed Del Biaggio's check and his bankruptcy wouldn't affect the Preds. Only thing i can think is if the contract had a clause regarding criminal activity (he is being sued and investigated for fraud at the federal level).

The article also states that Preds lead owner David Freeman told the Authority that they were as surprised as everyone else at Del Biaggio's duplicity. (See Freeman's full address to the Sports Authority here)

Almost as interesting, the article also notes that the Predators themselves were apparently served with a similar subpoena to the one the Sports Authority received.

Stay tuned indeed...

In related news, since i haven't actually posted on the subject myself, i'll chime in something that i commented in a few places: I think this is great for the team. The one concern myself and several other fans had was that Del Biaggio was just here waiting in the wings. Playing his role as a "good guy" and giving the Preds a chance, but was ready and waiting to buy out the team and move them to Kansas City, where he had a standing agreement with AEG to operate a hockey team in the Sprint Center. Or he could also have just been buying brownie points with the league to get his own expansion team later (something Jim Balsilie would be wise to learn if he wants in the owner's club).

But now of course, we don't have to worry about either of those possibilities (as Rob pointed out a few days ago). He isn't taking the team to Kansas City, and Jerry Bruckheimer wants an expansion team in Las Vegas and hasn't made any moves toward wanting to buy out any other teams. Which pretty much makes Balsillie the only shark circling in the water for the Preds, and we all know that Gary Bettman would have to resign as commish for that to happen.

Question: Boots Del Biaggio is clearly an idiot. How on earth did this guy expect to buy a hockey franchise out-right and move it to Kansas City if he's this broke? It's not like he would make money on the team here or there anyway. Someone this broke lying to get loans to buy something that isn't going to make him money...?! Dude. At least lie your way into something that will make you money next time.


Rob Robinson said...

Paul, you make a good point that we may see much of the finer points of negotiation between the parties last year. I will be curious to learn, if that does happen, what took so much time. I know these things aren't easy to pull off, but my curiosity is peaked.

Anonymous said...

I believe you mean your curiosity is piqued... not peaked. If you are truly a geek please act like one and spell correctly.

By the way, I know Boots Del Biaggio and he is a complete fraud in business and life.

fishwreck said...

Since Del Biaggio hasn't (yet) been convicted of any offense and it's hard to imagine that the agreement with Metro would prohibit simply being investigated, so I doubt the investigation and supposed fraudulent activities are the actual cause of default. I'd speculate that the agreement required each party to maintain a certain level of pledge assets with which to back the team and that his obvious inability to do that now puts him in default with Metro (and probably the team, too).

In this circumstance, it makes sense that Metro would allow the Predators to make good on the situation by replacing Del Biaggio's interests with those of a replacement owner. it also makes sense that this type of default would not impact operations (at least while Metro is being patient).