Ownership group’s founding chairman backing offer
The founding chairman of the ownership group for the Edmonton Oilers, a man who famously declared that the team is not for sale, has performed an abrupt about-face, now standing "enthusiastically" behind a buy-out offer from a local billionaire.
Cal Nichols confirmed with reporters yesterday that he thinks "times change" and a deal to sell the hockey team to pharmacy tycoon Daryl Katz, founder of the Rexall chain of companies, is a great idea.
"There’s been some good times, but to me, it just got to the point where the load just got too heavy on my shoulders," Nichols said.
"I’m like everybody else. I’m not getting any younger."
In August, Nichols said past dealings with Katz had caused "collateral damage" among fans and the community. He said the whole ordeal of receiving unsolicited offers had been "a bit of a circus," leading to the ownership group rejecting his $185-million bid.
Five months later, his fourth bid is estimated to be nearing $190 million, through an offer to buy 100 per cent of the team’s shares, and now has the full support of Nichols. About half of the 33 owners are also ready to sell, Nichols said, but Katz will need to buy two-thirds of their shares to get the deal passed by a Jan. 31 deadline.
Katz, who declined requests for an interview yesterday, released a statement saying he has great respect for the current ownership group.
His offer includes $100 million earmarked towards financing a hockey arena and a city report is expected in January on the feasibility of building such a facility.
Mayor Stephen Mandel told Metro yesterday that he’s had no dealings with the Oilers or Katz on the arena project and is still waiting on the report before any final decision on an arena project is made.