We end 2017 with a countdown of the 10 biggest stories of the year on Arena Digest, as chosen by editors and partially based on page views. Today, #8: The Carolina Hurricanes move closer to being sold.
If the plans put into place this year come to fruition, 2017 could mark the beginning of a new direction for the Carolina Hurricanes. Now that an agreement to sell the controlling stake in the team has been struck, the Hurricanes could continue to call Raleigh home under new leadership.
After reports had indicated that the team was on the market, it was learned in December that Dallas businessman Tom Dundon had reached a deal with long-time owner Peter Karmanos Jr. The pending transaction was revealed after a period of uncertainty surrounding future ownership of the Hurricanes.
Months before Dundon reached his agreement, it had appeared that sports attorney and former Texas Rangers president Chuck Greenberg was on the verge of purchasing the club. He and Karmanos came to an agreement on a term sheet, with a report indicating that the sale price would be around $500 million.
Reports on Greenberg’s interest surfaced in July, but by October Karmanos was expressing doubt that Greenberg could raise the funds to complete the sale. Dundon’s name eventually surfaced as a prospective buyer, and his plan to move forward with a purchase was revealed in December.
Under the reported terms of the transaction, Dundon will buy the controlling interest in the team while Karmanos will retain an equity stake. Karmanos originally purchased the franchise in 1994, when it was still known as the Hartford Whalers. He moved it to North Carolina for the 1997-98 season, the beginning of a short stop in Greensboro before the Hurricanes’ PNC Arena (then known as Raleigh Entertainment & Sports Arena) opened in 1999.
It is anticipated that Dundon will not look to move the Hurricanes, instead keeping them in Raleigh. That is despite some attendance issues over the last several years for the Hurricanes, who have drawn a per-game average of 11,827 spectators—second worst in the NHL—through 14 home games during the 2017-18 season.
Certainly, the club will look to improve in that area if it is to call PNC Arena and Raleigh home for the long haul. However, with the pending transaction in place as 2017 approaches its conclusion, it appears that the Hurricanes are being positioned to see a major change to their ownership.
Previously in our Top Ten Stories of 2017 List: