Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lightning owner to aid sale's financing

The worldwide credit crunch made the proposed sale of the Lightning to Hollywood producer Oren Koules difficult.

To remove the uncertainty that has been a constant of the four-month process, owner Palace Sports and Entertainment and Galatioto Sports Partners, a sports investment bank in New York that had been brokering the deal, will finance the sale.

"To move the process along and make it as efficient as it can be and gain control of the process, (GSP) and Palace Sports stepped in and said, 'We'll finance it until the credit markets get corrected,' " Lightning president Ron Campbell said. " 'At some time, and we'll be patient, you all will pay us back when you get traditional financing.' "

Campbell would not give specifics, but it is thought Palace Sports and GSP will contribute $100-million of the $200-million deal for the team, the St. Pete Times Forum lease and 51/2 nearby acres. It was unclear how much each would contribute, but Palace Sports is likely the primary lender.

Paperwork still must be signed, but that is expected to be done relatively quickly.

The move indicates how badly Palace Sports wants out and the difficult financial landscape.

Koules in February lost about $100-million in financing from Societe Generale, France's second largest bank, after it closed its U.S. sports lending business. A proposed financing deal with New York's CIT Group recently fell through as well.

"We've never seen it like this in our lifetime," Campbell said of the tight credit market.

Neither Koules, who heads OK Hockey, nor GSP president Sal Galatioto would comment.

Before the financial deal closes, however, the NHL's Board of Governors must approve transfer of ownership.

Given Koules apparently has raised 50 percent of the purchase price, a league benchmark, and the NHL's usual four- to six-week process once financing is secured, the deal could be done by early June. That would give Koules control for the draft, June 20-21 in Ottawa.

And it would end a saga that began in August, when Absolute Hockey Enterprises said it would buy the team. That venture, of which Koules was part, ended in November amid investor infighting.

Koules put together OK Hockey with business partner Mark Burg, developer and former NHLer Len Barrie and California banker Russell Belinsky. There likely will be one or two minority investors from the Tampa Bay area.

The group got exclusive negotiating rights in December.

"It appears there is a beacon of light at the end of the tunnel, which is good for everyone," Campbell said.

Damian Cristodero can be reached

Lightning owner to aid sale's financing 04/21/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 23, 2008 11:04am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Thursday's Rays-Yankees game

    The Heater

    The 10 strikeouts look flashy, but RHP Chris Archer was not his sharpest Thursday. He allowed three runs on seven hits, including three straight in the two-run second and a Gary Sanchez homer in the third, and lasted only six innings, throwing 102 pitches.

  2. Rays journal: Rookie pitcher Austn Pruitt taking latest callup in stride

    The Heater

    NEW YORK — Rays rookie RHP Austin Pruitt is pretty low-key, so it's no surprise he is taking in stride being called up to fill in for injured RHP Jake Odorizzi and start tonight against the Yankees in a fairly important series.

    HERE COME THE RUNS: Brad Miller follows through on a two-run double during in the fifth inning against the Yankees.
  3. Believe it! Rays are buyers, trade for reliever Dan Jennings and 1B/DH Lucas Duda

    The Heater

    NEW YORK — Dan Jennings' ability to render lefty hitters useless with a sinker that gets beaten into the ground and Lucas Duda's power to blast baseballs off and over outfield walls should make the Rays a better team.

    Lucas Duda
  4. Bucs' direction is decidedly up for first time in several years


    TAMPA — If you want to see a team give the Heisman Trophy stiff-arm to expectations, check out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    Tight end O.J. Howard (20), the Bucs’ first-round draft pick this year, was brought in to give QB Jameis Winston another big-play option.
  5. Rays at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. Friday, New York

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Yankees

    7:05, Yankee Stadium, New York

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Austin Pruitt (50) in the dugout during the ninth inning of the game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays on Opening Day at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, April 2, 2017. The Tampa Bay Rays beat the New York Yankees 7-3.