by Michael Lowrey
From Luke Decock of the N&O in the form of a 4,000 word Q&A. Sample quote, on the relationship between NHL expansion and the Hurricanes possibly moving.
Q. So what does all of this have to do with expansion? Aren’t they completely unrelated?
A. Well, no. They’re deeply linked. The NHL is expected to decide on expansion in the next three weeks, with Las Vegas and Quebec City the contenders. The league could award franchises to one or both, delay a decision for a year or pass entirely. Once that decision is made, the Hurricanes’ picture should become clearer to the extent that an expansion group that doesn’t get a team will be looking to purchase one, and the Hurricanes are openly for sale.
So as long as expansion is still on the agenda, the Hurricanes aren’t going anywhere. The NHL isn’t going to let a franchise move to a market that could be worth $500 million. But once this is resolved, especially if only one team (or no team) is awarded, things get a little more precarious.
Q. But Peter Karmanos says he won’t move the team, right?
A. True, and to be fair, no one really thinks Karmanos himself would move it. That’s a bit of a straw man on his part. He also says he won’t sell to anyone who will move the team, but it’s hard to imagine he’d be able to insert that clause into a sale without compromising his own bottom line. And I haven’t seen anything in the lease stopping anyone from paying out the minimum rent for the final few years and walking away. It’d be somewhere around $20 million, which is chump change for someone prepared to pay $500 million for an expansion team.
And I still think it’s likely that whenever Karmanos finally gets serious about selling the Hurricanes that a lot of public money will be offered up in efforts to keep the team here.