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Nashville Predators SOLD

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This was an article in Hamilton's local newspaper this morning....

Another shot at NHL Team for Hamilton

Council met last night with RIM boss Jim Balsillie and agreed to reactivate deal for Copps Cliseum

Hamilton has re-activated an agreement with Waterloo billionaire Jim Balsillie giving him exclusive rights to bring an NHL team to Copps Coliseum.

As part of the deal, the city is also negotiating to give Balsillie the right to run Hamilton Place and the Convention Centre - if he brings a team to town

The move comes on the heels of Balsillie, co-CEO of RIM, the company that makes BlackBerry communications device, agreeing to buy Nashville Predators for $220 million.

Balsillie approached the city late last week through Toronto attorney Richard Rodier.

That led to a flurry of behind-the-scenes discussions, including a telephone call between Mayor Fred Eisenberger and Balsillie.

"He has assured me that he wants to secure a team and he is interested in bringing it to Hamilton," Eisenberger said last night. "Certainly he has the resources to do it and we will leave it ip to him to pull it together."

After going behind closed doors last night, council supported going forward with the two-step agreement and negotiation process. Reached at his office, Rodier declined to comment.

BUt if the NHL board of governors approves the sale of the Predators, Balsillie is widely expected to move the money-losing team to a new city, possibly in Ontario.

The fact Basillie, operating as Golden Horseshoe Sports and Entertainment Ince., moved so quickly to once again sew up exclusive rights to Copps - rights he let lapse last fall - indicates Hamilton fits into his plans as either a possible location for the team or as a pawn to leverage other negotiations.

The new twist of linking exclusive rights to Copps with running all the city-owned venues connected with Hamilton Entertainment and Convention Facilities Inc. (HECFI) strongly suggests Hamilton may be more then just a bargaining chip.

Councillor Terry Whitehead, the city's NHL point man, says bringing an National Hockey League team to Hamilton remains a hard sell. Two previous bids to snare a franchise tripped over a combination of brush-offs from NHL brass and the presumed hurdle of paying millions in compensation to Toronto and Buffalo owners for trespassing on their territorial rights.

Whitehead remains skeptical but open-minded. "We always knew it was going to be an uphill battle, but it's nice to have someone in there like Mr. Balsillie who is prepared to enter the fight," he said. "It's far better for us to support something like this than sitting back and never having this kind of opportunity."

Councillor Tom JAckson, who also sits on the NHL subcommittee, points out there are still negotiations around HECFI to be worked out, be he's cautiously looking on the bright side. "I wouldn't waste my time and effort on supporting this if I didn't think there was a least a legitimate opportunity this time around," said Jackson.

sources say Balsillie's people are eager to wrap up the HECFI talks within a couple of weeks. Under the proposal terms, the city would retain ownership of HECFI buildings but Balsillie would operate and manage them if he brings a team to Steeltown. The Copps portion of the deal reportedly mirrors key pints in the exclusivity agreement the city negotiated with Rodier, on behalf of a mystery client, now known to be Balsillie, in 2004.

Balsillie would be responsible for leasehold improvements, including upgrades and the expansion of corporate boxes or suites to bring the 17,500 seat arena up to modern NHL standards. Rodier notified the city it was canceling that agreement last October, just days after Balsillie signed an agreement to purchase the struggling Pittsburgh Penguins. The cancellation suggested he was either trying to allay fears in Pittsburgh that he intended to move the team or Copps simply no longer figured in his plans.

Regardless, Balsillie backed out of the Pittsburgh purchase because of NHL conditions and obviously went hunting for another team. Now he's back at Hamilton's door. But we're not the only city wondering what the billionaire's game plan is. Speculation is rife he may also be looking at building a hockey stadium near Kitchener.

Hamilton's advantage, of course, is we're smack in the middle of the hockey-hungry Golden Horseshoe with an arena already waiting to be filled.

Andrew Dreschel

couple of notes.

1) Hamilton is also referred to as Steeltown.

2) HECFI would be Hamilton's entire entertainment section of the city (concert halls, entertainment centres). One of the biggest criticism given to Hamilton is that it's downtown is old and outdated to support the traffic of people an NHL team would bring. By taking control over the cities main entertainment sector, Balsillie would possibly have the opportunity to shape the downtown to his liking.

3) Not many Hamiltonians will get too excited over this....the city is fed one of these NHL franchise bones a year with no follow through, so we're used to disappointment by the NHL.

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http://www.thestar.com/Sports/article/220332

http://www.thestar.com/Sports/article/220335

http://www.thestar.com/Sports/article/219835

Keep in mind that these articles come from a Toronto newspaper, so there's going to be a slanted bias or anti-Hamilton approach to anything written. Torontonians have the tendency to view every Canadian city outside of Toronto has being irrelevant or insignificant.

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I could add a reply here but that may fall under the "constant whining" which I was accused of earlier on here(you never fail to dissappoint hoyle) I've come to realize that all this stuff isn't important. Who has a team and who doesn't, who is faster,stronger,etc. Which fans are louder than the others.Who's arena is nicer. which fans are more friendly than others. Who cares...

Maybe when something really important happens in one's life it changes ones outlook on whats important and what isn't. I could care less about hockey in Carolina,Hamilton or Hartford. But you can carry on this conversation. Family ....thats what is important to me and time which there is never enough of....take care all....goin' to bed

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http://www.thestar.com/Sports/article/220332

http://www.thestar.com/Sports/article/220335

http://www.thestar.com/Sports/article/219835

Keep in mind that these articles come from a Toronto newspaper, so there's going to be a slanted bias or anti-Hamilton approach to anything written. Torontonians have the tendency to view every Canadian city outside of Toronto has being irrelevant or insignificant.

I am far from having that view as are most of the people I know. I love places like Sudbury, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver. The whole of western Canada is amazing. Sault Saint Marie is a nice place too.

Never meant all Torontonians....but Ref you do remember when Mel Lastmen publicly stated that the GTA is so great it should practically be it's own province.

And FW I don't know what personal issues are taking place in your life right now, but I hope they resolve themselves out for the better.

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