Hurricanes close to sale; team would stay in Raleigh
Posted July 13
The “for sale” sign may no longer be needed. Sources say Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos Jr. has found a buyer and signed a letter of intent to sell.
The details of the sale have not been made public, and the deal has to be approved by the NHL. According to sources, the purchasing group is led by Chuck Greenberg, who is former CEO of the Texas Rangers and has links to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
In a statement, the team made the deal seem like less than a certainty.
"Since an offer has been made to purchase the team, Mr. Karmanos intends to evaluate that offer and also will continue to evaluate his other options, including retaining his ownership of the team," that statement read.
According to the sources on the sale, Karmanos' partners, a group of local investors who have a minority stake in the team, would have the option to participate in any new ownership.
As part of the agreement, the Hurricanes would remain in Raleigh.
In 2014, Karmanos said he thought the Hurricanes were worth $400 million. Forbes estimated the team's value at $230 million in 2016. Reports out of New York have Greenberg et al agreeing to pay almost more than twice that.
If investors wanted to purchase an expansion team, the fee was $500 million, like it was for Las Vegas.
Karmanos purchased the Hurricanes franchise when it was the Hartford Whalers for $48 million in 1994. In 2011, he added some local investors to the ownership team, and he's been open to a sale ever since.
- Gold: Karmanos willing to sell Hurricanes, but doesn't have to
- 11/2016: Canes 'not actively pursuing a sale'
Greenberg a heavy hitter in sports ownership
Greenberg is a man who has scored major points in hockey, even though he never played.
Raised in Pittsburgh, he attended Tufts University and then earned his law degree from the University of Michigan.
His work as an attorney helped save hockey in his hometown.
In 1999, Greenberg put together the deal that led to Mario Lemieux and businessman Ron Burkle assuming ownership of the bankrupt Penguins.
That was his first assist.
In 2007, Greenberg’s representation of Lemieux and Burkle was critical in the city's decision to build a brand-new stadium in downtown Pittsburgh. PPG Paints Arena has been filled with Stanley Cup championship excitement the last two years.
There’s hockey assist number two.
Greenberg currently owns parts of three minor league baseball franchises – one in Frisco, Texas, one in Myrtle Beach and one in State College, Pennsylvania.
He had a short but successful stint in Major League Baseball ownership as well.
Greenberg and Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan were among the managing partners in the group that purchased the Texas Rangers in 2010.
That same year marked the franchise's first of back-to-back trips to the World Series, but Greenberg’s role as CEO lasted only one year.
In a news release from the Rangers, Greenberg said he, Nolan Ryan and the other partners had “somewhat different styles” and they “did not work through our differences.”
He did leave a positive impression on then-Rangers general manager Jon Daniels.
"He's just a normal guy," Daniels says. "Jeans and T-shirts. He's really in tune with fans and knows how to have his finger on the pulse of what they want. He wants revenue, make no mistake about that, but above and beyond that comes winning."
Another Greenberg backer is Pittsburgh native and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. He and Greenberg grew up about three miles apart.
"Yeah, in a lot of ways he does remind me of me," Cuban told the Dallas Observer. "He puts the fan first, and he likes to make sure they have fun.”
"Mark's certainly someone I look up to," Greenberg says. "If I have a question or an idea, I'm not afraid to shoot him an email. I value his advice."
It wouldn’t be surprising at all if Greenberg connected with Cuban before completing his purchase of the Hurricanes. Cuban has done business in the Triangle and knows how financially fruitful the area can be.
Now the challenge for Greenberg is to make sure hockey flourishes for the Carolina Hurricanes. Step one: Return to the the playoffs.