Wed Mar 16 11:54am EDT
Chilliwack Bruins minority owner Moray Keith has added a heavy hitter to his bid to keep the six-year-old WHL team from moving. Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau, whose father lives Chilliwack, may become a partner in the Keith-led bid to buy the Bruins.
Minnesota Twins slugger Justin Morneau will financially back the Moray Keith-Jim Bond group in a bid to buy majority control of the Chilliwack Bruins.
... [T]he Keith group — who also operates the arena in Chilliwack — are in the process of looking for other investors.
... There are three other offers on the table for the team. The strongest aside from the Keith bid, is from Graham Lee's RG properties who operates the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria and wants to move the team to Vancouver Island. (CKNW)
Having the B.C.-born baseball star involved gives Keith's group a lot of credibility. He would not be the first major league MVP to have a stake in a WHL team; Hall of Fame third baseman George Brett is a part-owner of the Spokane Chiefs. Morneau won in 2006 with the Twins; Brett won in 1980 with the Kansas City Royals.
Of course, being able to raise the capital doesn't mean the current owners will necessarily be willing to stay. Reading between the lines, there that train of thought the WHL would like to have a team relocate to Victoria (especially since expansion is off the table for the 22-team league). At the same time, in terms of optics, it is better to keep teams in place.
The pieces are starting to fall into place, as long as Keith's co-owners (Brian Burke, Glen Sather and Darryl Porter) and the Western Hockey League governors are willing to accept a new ownership group that keeps the team in Chilliwack.
A news article [Tuesday] morning said there is pressure on Burke, Sather and Porter to accept a bid that would land the team in Victoria. That would fly in the face of commments WHL commisioner Ron Robison made in a Chilliwack Progress interview last week.
"The league's position on ownership is always to look for local ownership," he said. "That is always a priority. We have to make sure we have the right type of ownership, but if there is local interest, that is something we would want to explore." (Chilliwack Progress)
This sets up a fierce fight over the franchise's future, needless to say.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.