Potential Thrashers buyer dreamed of Atlanta empire

2:16 PM, May 26, 2011   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- Former NHL player Anson Carter had a dream of building a sports and entertainment empire in Atlanta.

He told 11Alive News that he saw "the Hawks, Thrashers and Philips Arena as the centerpiece of the company."

Early last year, Carter led a group of investors called Atlanta Sports and Entertainment (ASE) in talks with the Atlanta Spirit Group to buy the Thrashers, Hawks and operating rights to Philips Arena.

A source close to the situation told 11Alive's Matt Pearl on the condition on anonymity that ASE made a preliminary non-binding offer, but it was never put through due diligence by the Atlanta Spirit Group.

Pearl's source went on to detail a rift between the Atlanta Spirit investors. Some of the investors preferred to keep all three assets, the Thrashers, Hawks and Philips together. Others within the group were inclined to sell the financially under-performing Thrashers and maintain ownership of the Hawks and operating rights to Philips Arena.

The source noted that ASE wanted to keep the Thrashers in Atlanta and had serious financial backing.

"ASE is now focusing their interest on other markets," Carter said in a statement on Thursday, another frustrating day for hockey fans in Atlanta and Winnipeg.

The Hockey News is reporting that it's a done deal: The Atlanta Thrashers NHL franchise is moving to Winnipeg, Manitoba.

According to The Hockey News, the Atlanta Spirit Group has reached a $170 million deal with True North Sports & Entertainment and the NHL. The purchase price for the Thrashers franchise was $110 million. A $60 million relocation fee was added to the deal. 

But the Atlanta Thrashers organization says, not so fast.

Thrashers President Don Waddell said Wednesday that the deal with True North Sports & Entertainment is "still a work in progress" and refuted The Hockey News report.

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