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Former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam is expected to become majority owner of the Nashville Predators in the next few years and is in the process of buying a majority stake in the franchise from Herb Fritch, chairman of Predators Holdings LLC, an ownership group of 17.
Haslam is expected to become "minority owner in the next few months," according to the team. That will begin a multi-year process for Haslam to gain a majority stake that will all but ensure the team's long-term future in Nashville.
Sportico first reported the deal Thursday night. The Tennessean later independently confirmed the news.
“From the time our ownership group, made up of day one season ticket holders, gathered together in 2007 to purchase and guarantee the franchise's future in Nashville, the goal has been to ensure that stewardship of the team is in strong local hands,” said Sean Henry, president and CEO of the Predators and Bridgestone Arena.
Nearly 15 years ago the Predators were on the verge of becoming the Hamilton (Ontario) Predators when a group of original season-ticket holders bought the franchise from Craig Leipold for $174 million and kept the team in Nashville.
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Haslam, who was born in Knoxville in 1958, is the brother of Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and son of Pilot Corporation founder Jim Haslam. He served as mayor of Knoxville after he was CEO of Pilot, a CEO for Saks Fifth Avenue and is co-owner of the Tennessee Smokies, a minor-league baseball team.
Haslam's deal hinges on several things, including "definitive documents being drafted and executed, the completion of a due diligence process and approval from the NHL.
“The pending addition of Governor Haslam to the ownership group solidifies that local stewardship for years to come, with the shared philosophy for making SMASHVILLE the most unique sports market in our league and country as our players and coaches compete for the Stanley Cup each season," Henry said. "We are excited and appreciative that he has agreed to join the ownership team.”
According to Forbes, Bill Haslam has a net worth of more than $2 billion. In December 2021, Forbes listed the Predators' worth at $600 million, 25th in the league.
The Predators entered the NHL as an expansion team during the 1998-99 season. They have made the playoffs for eight consecutive seasons, tied with the Washington Capitals for the second-longest active streak behind the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Predators recently signed coach John Hynes to a two-year extension.
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This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Nashville Predators establish timeline for Bill Haslam's ownership