Though rumors of a possible sale continue, owner Eugene Melnyk has refinanced the Ottawa Senators debt and denies that he is working to sell the team.
The Senators have battled financial issues over the years, and have had problems in drawing fans to home games at the Canadian Tire Centre. On Wednesday, the Senators revealed that parent company Capital Holdings Inc. had made a move to address the team’s debt through a $135-million refinancing of “a six-year senior term debt with a syndicate of financial institutions.”
While that announcement provided a sign that the Senators are working to address their financial issues, discussions that Melnyk might be looking to sell have continued. A report from The Fourth Period on Thursday indicated that he had already turned down an offer, but is still in negotiations to sell the team. Through Senators CEO Nicolas Ruszkowski, the organization issued a statement denying that Melnyk is shopping the team and that the decision to refinance allows the organization to plan for future investment. More from the Ottawa Citizen:
The report by David Pagnotta of thefourthperiod.com also said Melnyk is still in negotiations to sell, possibly with Guy Laliberté of Cirque du Soleil. Laliberté was part of the Devcore-Canderel DLS group, along with billionaire André Desmarais, that finished second in the bidding to redevelop LeBreton Flats.
The report also claimed that Laliberté played a role in the club’s refinancing.
Ruszkowski said the Senators had never held any sale discussions with Laliberté and that Melnyk isn’t in any discussions with anyone about selling the team.
“On behalf of the Ottawa Senators and our owner Eugene Melnyk, let me keep it very simple: the team is not for sale, nor are we negotiating any offer,” Ruszkowski said. “We made public our $135 million financing (Wednesday) to signal our intent to invest in the team, the fan experience, and in our community.
Over the last few years, Melnyk has been pitching a new Senators arena in downtown Ottawa as part of a larger LeBreton Flats redevelopment project. Negotiations with the National Capital Commission over the proposal continue and it remains to be seen where they will lead, but it has been expected that a move to a new arena in downtown Ottawa could be a financial boost for the Senators. The Canadian Tire Centre, their current home, is located in suburban Kanata.
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