After months of speculation, and weeks of purported investors expressing interest, Senators Sports & Entertainment have officially begun the process of selling the Ottawa Senators. The sale follows the death of former owner Eugene Melnyk, who died last March due to an unspecified illness.
The Senators Sports & Entertainment statement outlined a few key details in the potential transaction — notably that they had retained Galatioto Sports Partners as their financial advisors and that any sale would be contingent on the Senators remaining in Ottawa.
Why are the Senators being sold?
Whispers of an Ottawa Senators sale are nothing new to the franchise. Even under the ownership of Eugene Melnyk, the team was reportedly on and off the market, though nothing materialized to the dismay of fans calling for Melynk to sell the club.
Melnyk’s passing, however, ultimately set the wheels in motion for a sale to occur. Melnyk’s daughters, Olivia and Anna, took control of the franchise through his estate, and while the club remained status quo through this summer, the Senators board of directors announced the move officially on Friday, stating that it was best for the “future of the team.”
Who owns the Senators?
While Olivia and Anna Melnyk are the official owners of the team, the club has been represented by a board of directors that has been responsible for the day-to-day operations of the club.
Sheldon Plener, quoted in the Senators Sports and Entertainment release, serves as the board’s chairman as well as the Senators governor, representing the club at events such as the NHL’s board of governors meetings.
Plener’s history with the Senators dates back to Melnyk’s time as owner, serving as the team’s alternate governor, as well as Melnyk’s personal lawyer.
Who has expressed interest in buying the Senators?
Interest in purchasing the Senators has been widespread, from local groups to celebrity bidders, among others that are surely looking to get their hands on the team.
Most recently, two OHL owners have reportedly joined forces to express interest. Hamilton Bulldogs owner Michael Andlauer and Oshawa Generals owner Rocco Tullio have formed a partnership in an attempt to buy the Senators, per the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch.
Amongst the most prominent names that have been thrown around include local businessman Roger Greenberg. A partner in Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, which owns the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s and CFL’s Ottawa RedBlacks, Greenberg stated publicly back in April that he would be interested in purchasing the hockey club as part of a group.
Additionally, Jeff York, an executive with Ottawa-based food retailer Farm Boy, has also expressed interest, reportedly having met with NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and having a group in place for a bid.
On Nov. 2, Garrioch reported a number of potential buyers had emerged, including Toronto-based brothers Jeffrey and Michael Kimel, who owned a minority stake in the Pittsburgh Penguins until the franchise was sold last year. Toronto billionaire Michael Andlauer was reported to have "kicked tires" previously, while Montreal-based billionaire André Desmarais, who was connected to a group bidding for a new arena near Ottawa's LeBreton Flats in 2016, was also floated as a potential suitor.
Perhaps most prominently interested, as first reported by TSN's Darren Dreger, is Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds, who is already a partial owner of Wrexham F.C., a soccer club based in Wales. Reynolds confirmed his interest in a recent appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
How much are the Senators worth?
According to a recent report from Sportico, the Senators are valued at $655-million. That valuation equates to a league-high 21 percent jump year-over-year, according to the report, and could position the Senators to be sold at a significantly higher price than the Sportico valuation.
Per the Ottawa Business Journal, the Senators’ sale could fetch over a billion dollars if recent NHL ownership transactions are any indication.
Last year, the Pittsburgh Penguins were sold to Fenway Sports Group, owners of the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool F.C., for $900 million, while the Nashville Predators are set to be sold for $775 million to former Tennessee governor Bill Haslam.
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