Finally, some good news for hockey fans in Atlanta. According to Kevin Allen at USA Today, there's a second group interested in purchasing the Atlanta Thrashers -- and they're not True North Sports, the group that wants to relocate the team to Winnipeg, Man.
Will this group be able to stack up with True North, though?
For what it's worth, a group interested in keeping the Thrashers in ATL has submitted a term sheet to Thrashers owners spelling out an offer. The 2nd group interested in the Thrashers is serious, but not as far along in the financial process as the True North group. For those asking, don't have any idea whether 2nd group can get any traction in bidding for Thrashers. True North seems way way ahead.
At the same time as Allen's report, John Kincaid, an ESPN Radio host in Atlanta, reports that venture capitalist J.B. Smith is interested in buying the Thrashers and keeping them in town. He tried to purchase a piece of the Pittsburgh Steelers from the Rooney family back in 2009, but that fell through. It's not clear if Allen and Kincaid are talking about the same thing here, but it seems like that could be the case.
Smith is reportedly interested in purchasing all three entities owned by Atlanta Spirit Group: the Thrashers, the NBA's Atlanta Hawks and Philips Arena. That could be key, since as we mentioned earlier, it seems strange that a local group would be interested in purchasing the Thrashers without the arena, since paying on a lease seems silly from a financial standpoint when it's a team like the Thrashers we're talking about.
One of those Atlanta Spirit owners, Bruce Levenson, told a local television station in Atlanta that a local solution hadn't moved any closer to reality in the last month or two. Presumably, if Kincaid's report is correct, he was talking about his discussions with Smith. Levenson didn't identify the party involved.
None of this is great news for those that wish to see the Thrashers stay in Atlanta, but it's certainly better than nothing. A glimmer of hope, you could say.