For Sale: One St. Louis-based hockey team, arena lease
St. Louis, MO – There's a hockey team for sale in St. Louis.
Team owners Bill and Nancy Laurie will sell the Blues and the lease for the Savvis Center because of heavy financial losses of at least $60 million in the last two years. This year's losses were made worse by a strike that canceled the hockey season.
"The Lauries made the decision to sell the team and the Savvis Center because they can no longer justify remaining active in a business which has lost more than $60 million in the past two years and is certain to continue to lose millions annually in the years ahead," said Blues President Mark Sauer in a statement Friday.
Patrick Rishe, who studies sports business and teaches at Webster University, says the news did not surprise him, given the current status of the league.
"The only surprise factor is because Laurie had a desire to bring a professional baskeball team to St. Louis, obviously now that he no longer holds that team or facility, he may have decided 'You know what, it's not worth it anyway.'" said Rishe
The Lauries are Wal-Mart heirs who paid $100 million to buy the team in 1999. Sources told the Post-Dispatch the Lauries hope the new buyer is local.
Meanwhile, the Lauries also own the Savvis Center, which could be getting a new name.
Savvis Communications said Thursday it will pay more than $5 million to get out of its naming rights deal on the building.
St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay says he hopes owners Bill and Nancy Laurie will find a local buyer for the Blues hockey franchise.
And Mayor Slay says the next step for city and business leaders is to get a handle on financial issues facing the arena.
"Once we do we can get a better idea of what kind of capital this community would have to come up with, or a new ownership group, to keep a team here," Slay said. "And then we've got to go out simultaneously and make inquiries and see who might be interested in keeping the Blues in St. Louis."
Slay also says high ticket taxes are one of the reasons why the Lauries decided to sell the team.
The mayor says he told a representative of the couple that the city is willing to negotiate on taxes.