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New group negotiating possible purchase of Blues

Blues goalie Curtis Sanford (UPI file photo)
Blues goalie Curtis Sanford (UPI file photo)


St. Louis, MO – The owners of the Blues have entered into another agreement to negotiate for the team's sale.

Bill and Nancy Laurie put the team up for sale this year. A previous negotiating agreement expired, which essentially put the team back on the market.

The Laurie's will now negotiate exclusively with a group from Detroit called General Sports and Entertainment. The group was founded by former Detroit Pistons executive Andrew Appleby.

Game Plan LLC, a Boston-based investment banking firm that specializes in selling professional sports franchises, is handling the sale for the Lauries. Game Plan said details of the negotiations would remain confidential.

Blues spokesman Chuck Menke said the team would have no comment.

The NHL Board of Governors would have to approve the sale of any franchise. The team's lease stipulates that the Blues will remain in St. Louis until the 2010-11 season.

The team has been back on the market since mid-November when a group headed by Dave Checketts, a former president of the NBA's Utah Jazz and New York Knicks, withdrew from negotiations.

The Lauries had signed a letter of intent with Sports Capital Partners granting them exclusive rights to negotiate for 30 days to purchase the team and the operating lease on the Savvis Center, where the Blues play.

The Lauries bought the team in 1999 and put it up for sale in June, claiming several years of multimillion-dollar losses. The couple was unsuccessful in attempts to bring an NBA franchise to the city.

Since the Lauries announced their intention to sell the team, the Blues have sliced payroll and traded star defenseman Chris Pronger to the Edmonton Oilers. The team has a payroll of about $30 million, or $9 million under the NHL's new salary cap, and about half of last year's total. The team is also struggling in last place with a record of 8-21-4. The Blues have made the playoffs for 25 straight years.