Follow the Money
Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
2 months ago
When the puck drops between the Edmonton Oilers and Nashville Predators at Rogers Place tonight, the teams will represent a combined valuation roughly equal to that of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the rankings of NHL franchises just released by Sportico, a website dedicated to the business side of sports.
Sportico has the Oilers ranked eighth in the NHL with a valuation of $1.29 billion, which represents an increase of 11 per cent over 2021 and bumps them up one position from ninth last year. The Predators, meanwhile, are ranked 23rd with a valuation of $775 million, which moved them up three positions and represents an increase of 14 per cent.
The Maple Leafs remain in top spot in Sportico’s rankings at $2.12 billion, up six per cent from the $2 billion they were valued at in 2021. The rest of the top five includes the New York Rangers ($2.01 billion), Montreal Canadiens ($1.7 billion), the Chicago Blackhawks ($1.44 billion) and the Boston Bruins ($1.41 billion).
The Oilers and Predators, like the rest of the NHL’s teams, have enjoyed a significant surge in value in recent years, but Edmonton and Music City have more than that in common. Both cities came close to losing their franchises to ownership groups in other cities during some difficult financial times.
The Oilers story we know. When owner Peter Pocklington’s financial house of cards finally collapsed in the late 1990’s, he was forced to put the team up for sale. That drew interest from Les Alexander, a Houston businessman who owned the NBA Rockets. That’s when Cal Nichols and the Edmonton Investors Group rode to the rescue and purchased the team in 1998 for $100 million Cdn.
After keeping the franchise afloat and operating on a shoestring budget for a decade, the EIG sold the Oilers to Daryl Katz in June 2008 for $200 million Cdn. Suffice to say, Sportico’s $1.29 billion valuation represents a huge increase over Katz’s initial purchase price.
While the Predators aren’t valued nearly as highly as the Oilers now, they have more than tripled in value from when owner Craig Leipold put them up for sale for $220 million in 2007. Back then, Jim Balsillie, chairman and co-CEO of Research in Motion, agreed to that price — his intention was to move the team to Hamilton.
When Leipold became aware of Balsillie’s plan to move the team, he terminated the agreement and sold the team to a group of 10 local investors for $175 million. Reports circulating as recently as Oct. 31 indicate that former Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam is in the process of buying a share of the Predators that will eventually make him the majority owner.