As the Senators sale process nears an end, here’s everything we know so far

May 16, 2023 – Media Mention
The Athletic

Irwin Kishner, co-chair of Herrick's Sports Law Group, was interviewed by The Athletic where he provided insight into the ongoing sales process of the NHL Ottawa Senators Hockey Club, which after six months is nearing an end. The publication interviewed Irwin to gain insight on how the final binding bid process works when trying to purchase a major professional sports franchise.

Irwin noted the finalists would have all received a draft contract for purchasing the Senators. Then the individual groups would then review that contract, make any amendments they deemed necessary, and send it back with a formal offer attached prior to the deadline. Irwin noted that the groups would have to supply some information along with their bid.

“And it’s not simply a number,” explained Irwin. “You’re going to want to understand the financial wherewithal. What are your sources of funds? Who is the managing partner? And things of that like.”

The reporter asked Irwin about one of the groups that submitted a bid that is led by a Toronto-based entrepreneur. Irwin noted that he is very familiar with the entrepreneur and his previous attempt to purchase a stake in the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets. Irwin believes he is very serious and committed to locking down a pro sports franchise.

“In my opinion, someday he’s going to own a professional sports team,” said Irwin. “I’ve just seen him pop up too many times on the altar.”

The article further reports that at least one of the bids topped the $1 billion mark, and that sources familiar with these types of transactions suggest that there are likely conditions attached to the bid. Irwin stated that when you reach the $1 billion plateau, there is a good chance there will be a loan component to the deal.

"It would be very unusual not to have some level of financing on something like this,” according to Irwin.

Irwin further noted that even though these final bids were submitted, there is still room for negotiation and to see if any of the bidders will "sweeten the offer."

“The job of the people involved in the process is to maximize the purchase price or maximize value,” said Irwin. “So, it’s not unusual when a banker says, ‘Well, we see $950 million down there. Are you sure that’s your final and best offer? Because my sense is this is going for over a billion.'”

With respect to the timeline, “I think the bidder is going to be awarded within the next couple of days,” said Irwin. “This week is what I would be anticipating.”

Read the full article in The Athletic here. Access may require a subscription.