St. Louis Blues owner Dave Checketts said he would be granted an extension to repay a $120 million loan from a Citigroup Inc.-led syndicate, giving him more time to sell the National Hockey League team.
Checketts, a former Madison Square Garden president, said in a telephone interview today that he has three “very strong” bidders for the franchise, which Forbes magazine says is worth $165 million, placing it 23rd among the NHL’s 30 teams. He didn’t identify the bidders.
Checketts said he never missed a payment on the loan, which was due June 30. The banks, he said, wanted to know when they could expect repayment by getting an update on the sale process.
“The bank is now satisfied,” he said. “We’re going to move forward.”
Mark Costiglio, a spokesman for Citigroup, declined to comment in an e-mail. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on what role, if any, the league is playing in the process.
Checketts wouldn’t disclose details of the pending extension, saying he and the banks have agreed to confidentiality.
“Bottom line is we’ve got plenty of time to conduct an orderly process, which is all we wanted,” Checketts said. He also said he wants to complete the sale by the end of the year.
Checketts controls the Blues through New York-based SCP Worldwide, which owns about 20 percent of the club. He put the team up for sale in March after failing to reach agreement with TowerBrook Capital Partners on what its 70 percent was worth.
A default would be damaging to Checketts, 55, who also runs Real Salt Lake of Major League Soccer and has expressed an interest in owning other teams, including baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers.
Checketts ran MSG, putting him in charge of the New York Knicks and Rangers, from 1994 to 2001. He resigned in a power struggle with James Dolan, chief executive officer of Cablevision, which owned the teams at the time.
Cablevision said in 2009 that it was spinning off its MSG assets, including the sports teams and Radio City Music Hall.
Billionaire Tom Hicks’s Hicks Sports Group, which used to own Major League Baseball’s Texas Rangers, defaulted on $525 million in loans after missing interest payments in April 2009. The Rangers were sold last year in U.S. Bankruptcy Court to a group that included Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan.
Checketts’s extension comes about a week after baseball’s Dodgers filed for bankruptcy protection following Commissioner Bud Selig’s rejection of a 17-year, $3 billion TV rights deal between Fox Sports and Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, who is fighting with his ex-wife, Jamie, over ownership of the team.