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Owners happy with tweaked financing plan



If, as everybody is saying, the agreement between Lightning owner OK Hockey and Palace Sports & Entertainment helps maintain the stability of the organization's finances, then the meeting between the parties last week in the NHL's New York offices was well worth the time and trouble. Consider, then, what NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said on Saturday.

"From our perspective," he said in an e-mail, "we are comfortable the Lightning's financial obligations are being satisfied, and will continue to be satisfied going forward."

What apparently happened is principal owner Oren Koules, general manager Brian Lawton and Palace Sports CEO Tom WIlson met to restructure some of the $70-million financing agreement OK Hockey got from outgoing owner Palace Sports.

Details were unclear except that Daly said the NHL is not involved financially. But the bottom line seems to be that the tweaks will allow OK Hockey to better deal with its debt while it searches for a bank loan to pay off Palace Sports, which it is believed provided OK Hockey a three-year financing agreement when it sold the team. OK Hockey put in about $100-million of the $200-million purchase price. Palace Sports and Galatioto Sports Partners, a New York sports investment firm, financed the rest.

It should be no surprise that a search for investment capital has gotten more difficult because of the wordlwide credit crunch. Even so, owner Len Barrie said the restructured financing agreement is a chance to "create value," and maintain the organization's stability.

"It's a positive story," Barrie said. "We're not dumb guys. We didn't put in $100-million cash to lose it in three months. We have a good business here. We think we can turn it into a great business in the next three years."

Bottom line, Koules said, "It gives us a lot of room to maneuver and do what we want to do with the team."

More in Sunday's paper.

[Last modified: Sunday, August 16, 2009 4:38pm]


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