June 18, 2004
SEALS, BARRACUDAS SALE STOPS
Waronker Terminates Negotiations
David Waronker, owner of the Orlando Seals has announced negotiations to transfer ownership of the Seals and the Jacksonville Barracudas to Star Leaf Sports, of Calgary, Alberta have ceased, and that Waronker will retain control of the two teams.
My wife Ruth and I along with our other shareholders entered the negotiations with the hope that the transaction could be completed as the buyer had indicated in an original letter of intent. However, circumstances outside of our control have prevented the sale being closed. So in order to best move ahead, we will retain controlling interest of both franchises, Waronker said.
Along with both teams other shareholders, we have been disappointed that certain aspects of the original letter of intent have not been met by the buyer. These include lack of the required deposit, and a request not to make any announcements about the pending sale or operational matters. The buyer had not placed the deposit in escrow, and has made media announcements of coaching decisions in both cities. They have also indicated in a story to the Orlando newspaper they plan to change the name. All of this has taken place without a signed deal. We will not jeopardize two strong championship franchises for a buyer who has failed to prove he is capable of finalizing the transaction, Waronker said. We feel bad for the fans, sponsors, and anyone affected by the unfounded speculation of the sale of the teams. We feel most sorry for our employees who had to endure a roller coaster ride for the past three weeks. That includes Jim Paek, Ron Duguay, Butch Groing, and Zac Boyer who were promised coaching positions by the potential buyer before the deal was consummated. We just had to put an end to the madness.
The Seals and Barracudas will remain in the Southern Hockey League for the 2004-05 season. Waronker said ending the sale process will allow both teams to move ahead with the planning process for next season. We expect that we will start the season with at least eight franchises. We have four months to promote and sell Seals and Barracudas hockey. Our coaching staffs also have four months to put together their championship teams.
Naturally our fans and our corporate partners had legitimate questions about what was happening with the teams, Waronker said. By ending the speculation about the sale and ceasing negotiations it lets us proceed in a manner that is fair to our fans, partners, and other teams in the SHL. We also wish good luck to the WHA as it continues to locate suitable venues and legitimate ownership groups to start its first season. The Founders of the WHA are trying very hard to get their league off the ground, they have a very strong business plan and both the Seals and Barracudas anticipate working with the WHA in any reasonable way possible to help them get started in October, 2004.
The Seals and Barracudas are currently accepting season ticket applications for the 2004-05 season. For more information call the Seals at (407) 447-PUCK (7825) or the Barracudas at (904) 367-1ICE (1423).
When people with money and credibility can make things happen in those regions, A-League hockey can work. Right now that isn't happening out there. I wish people would stop admitting teams that only have enough money for the expansion fee into their leagues. It would prevent all of the embarassments over the last 5 years.
This has "disaster" written all over it, and that's IF there's a merger. If there isn't one, I have serious doubts on either league playing this year, even more doubts on the SEHL, though.
Gimme your money.