Yesterday afternoon, Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos Jr. spoke with the News and Observer’s Chip Alexander about the process underway to sell the Carolina Hurricanes to former Texas Rangers partner Chuck Greenberg. In typical Karmanos fashion, there’s a lot to unpack, but digging a bit deeper underneath the bluster there are some signs of optimism.
First, the obvious: this is the first time that Karmanos himself has said, on the record, that an offer exists from Greenberg to buy the Hurricanes. So from that angle, this is a fairly major development. But Karmanos then goes further, telling Alexander that Greenberg has “a few more weeks” to meet the purchase price, which he estimated at between $450 and $500 million, confirming the original report from Bloomberg’s Scott Soshnick.
So what happens in “a few more weeks” if Greenberg can’t ante up? Karmanos says that the asking price could go up, perhaps to $550 or $600 million, owing to the fact that the team ran a profit in 2016-17 despite not making the playoffs.
Hold that thought for a second.
Karmanos is a salesman. He understands the mechanics of the free market. Greenberg is willing to pay (for the sake of argument) $500 million to buy the team; despite Karmanos’ proclamation that “11 or 12 groups” had shown at least a passing interest in purchasing the team, this is the only one that has gotten anywhere close to an actual deal.
Advancing the idea that the price goes up if Greenberg’s deal falls through is a good sales tactic, nothing more. At some point, Karmanos will sell for whatever the market bears. To this end, he hints at this being closer to the end than the beginning later in the interview:
My problem is I’m 74 years old and I have four little kids at home, which changes the dynamic enormously. I don’t want to leave my family in a really tough spot, by having this huge liquid asset and forcing a fire sale at that point in time. I’m trying to do what I think is best for the team and for my family, and for my investors.
Do those sound like the words of a person who is going to wait an unlimited amount of time to sell the team? Karmanos obviously, and rightfully, won’t accept a below-market-rate offer, but he’s also not going to hold out forever looking for the perfect deal.
Another positive development: Karmanos seems to have given up on the idea of selling the team yet retaining control. Here’s what he told Chip:
I would just like to hang around the edges, and help them when they need help and still get my name on the Stanley Cup if we win it. But if I’ve sold the team I’ve sold the team.
I mean, wouldn’t we all. But the bottom line here is that Karmanos plans to offer his services to the new owner, although not as a condition of the sale. That alone makes this much more palatable to a potential new owner, you’d have to think.
But the most intriguing piece of information is this, as mentioned before: Karmanos asserted, and team president Don Waddell confirmed, that the Hurricanes turned a profit in 2016-17, the first time in Karmanos’ ownership that they’ve done so without making the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Now, we have no idea if that profit includes the $16.7 million that the team pocketed as its share of the Vegas Golden Knights expansion fee, so it might be inflated a bit. But regardless, this is still unquestionably excellent news, and kudos are in order to Waddell and GM Ron Francis for making order out of a messy financial house over the past three years.
And with that in mind, single game tickets for the 2017-18 season go on sale August 24, with a season ticket member presale beginning August 22 and a social media presale the next day. The good news this year? You can now pay for parking in advance, or with a credit card at the arena parking lot. The bad? It’s gonna cost you $20 this year, up from $15 last year. (Hey, if parking is what’s keeping the team from turning a profit year over year, c’est la vie.)
Also this year, the number of Gold-tier game have doubled, up to six (including both home games against the Rangers and Penguins), and ten games will be designated as Silver-tier, the same as last season.
So, what does this all boil down to? Karmanos wouldn’t have gone to the media to hurry Greenberg along if he didn’t believe there was a deal to be made here. The fact that it isn’t dying a quiet death means that, in my opinion, the deal is more likely than not to be finalized. If Greenberg can come up with the financial wherewithal to pull off the purchase, the team will likely be his.
To that end, what’s Greenberg been up to?
Well, that certainly sounds promising. Let’s hope the next time we hear from Karmanos it isn’t to say that a deal is off and the Canes are back in limbo.
The team’s release about 2017-18 single-game tickets is below.
CANES INDIVIDUAL GAME TICKETS AVAILABLE AUG. 24
Season Ticket Members have access starting Aug. 22
Don Waddell, President of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that individual game tickets for all Hurricanes home games will go on sale to the general public on Thursday, Aug. 24 at 10 a.m. The team also announced its tiered, single-game ticket pricing for the 2017-18 season.
Hurricanes Season Ticket Members will be able to purchase individual-game tickets via their Caniac Account Manager two days ahead of the public on-sale, starting at 10 a.m., on Tuesday, Aug. 22. In addition, the team’s social-media followers will have access to a special presale beginning on Wednesday, Aug. 23, at 10 a.m.
Individual-game ticket pricing is broken into three tiers based upon the anticipated popularity of the games. For the 2017-18 season, six games are designated for “gold” pricing, 10 games have “silver” pricing and there are 27 “bronze” games. A complete breakdown of the tiers and pricing is available on the individual-game ticket page of CarolinaHurricanes.com.
For the first time this season, fans attending Hurricanes home games will be able to pay for parking with their credit cards. Fans also may choose to buy a general parking pass at the time of their ticket purchase. Parking for Hurricanes games will be $20 in 2017-18.