Lauries 'getting out of sports in St. Louis'Associated Press
ST. LOUIS -- The owners of the St. Louis Blues announced their plans to sell the franchise on Friday, citing tens of millions of dollars in losses.
Wal-Mart heirs Bill and Nancy Laurie decided to sell the NHL franchise because of heavy financial losses and concerns about the future after a lockout canceled the entire 2004-05 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," Blues president Mark Sauer said in a statement.
The Lauries hold a long-term lease agreement on the Savvis Center, which is owned by the city.
The combined cash deficits of the Blues and Savvis Center since the building opened in late 1994 have exceeded $225 million, Sauer said. The Lauries' decision to sell was first reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Friday.
"Substantial future losses are projected even if you take into account what we believe will be a very successful resolution to NHL collective bargaining," Sauer said. "Those projected losses result from the current high sales and amusement taxes and the absence of city, county and state financial support of the debt service and operations of Savvis Center."
Game Plan LLC -- a Boston-based company that found buyers for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Boston Celtics and the Ottawa Senators -- was hired to conduct the search for a new owner.
Sauer said keeping the team in St. Louis remains the Lauries' top priority but that "they are getting out of sports in St. Louis."
This isn't the first time there's been some question about the Blues' future.
The team almost moved to Saskatchewan in the 1980s before California businessman Harry Ornest stepped in with a group of companies to buy the Blues and the old St. Louis Arena. Ornest sold the team and the arena for $31 million to local investors in 1986.
The Lauries paid $100 million to buy the Blues in September 1999. A phone message left for the Lauries through their Paige Sports Entertainment offices in St. Louis was not immediately returned.
A previous ownership group, Clark Enterprises, spent more than $70 million over the previous four years to cover shortfalls on the team and the arena.
Savvis Inc., which has held the naming rights for the building since 2000, announced Thursday that it would pay $5.5 million for an early termination of its 20-year agreement.
Also SeeWant a hockey team? Blues reportedly up for sale
Edited by Ice Man, 18 June 2005 - 08:21 AM.