RALEIGH — For months, Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos Jr. has promised the team would secure locally based investors willing to buy into the team and be a part of its future.
On Thursday, Karmanos announced there is a group of 10 new partners in the ownership of the team. Nine of the team's 10 investors are based in North Carolina, including Hurricanes president and general manager Jim Rutherford.
Other partners are:
Michael Kahn, owner of the Charlotte Checkers.
Capitol Broadcasting Company, Inc. (James Goodmon, A.J. Fletcher Foundation).
Matthew Szulik, retired chairman and CEO of Red Hat.
Ice Puck LLC (Orris Temple Sloan, Jr.)
Clancy & Theys Construction (David Tim Clancy, Joel Thomas Irving Clancy, Kathryn Virginia Clancy, Robert Todd Clancy, Sarah Elizabeth Sturm)
Hurricanes Investment, LLC (Abel Zalcberg, Barbara Zalcberg)
Whitney Holdings Inc. (Frederick J. Whitney, Timothy M. Whitney).
Two investment partners chose to keep their partnerships private, Karmanos said.
"From day one we've wished we had more involvement from the community, and to have these investors provides the foothold we need to make the Hurricanes more a part of the community," Karmanos said Thursday. "We've always gotten great support but always felt we needed local ownership.
"It's a real commitment on the part of these people and I'm honored to have them as partners. They share our enthusiasm. We believe it's a good business deal."
Goodmon also believes it is. The president and CEO of Capitol Broadcasting has been a longtime supporter of hockey and the Hurricanes, and said talk of local investors began about five years ago.
"The two questions I have been asked the most are, 'Are you doing this so the Hurricanes don't leave?' and 'Do you think hockey can really work in Raleigh?' " Goodmon said. "Those two questions should not be asked anymore. We're years beyond that. We're an NHL market."
Rutherford was a part of the initial ownership group with Karmanos and the late Thomas Thewes that bought the Hartford Whalers franchise in 1994. He later sold his ownership share after the Whalers' relocation to North Carolina in 1997.
"When we first started doing this and making presentations to local investors, the more I heard about it, the more it made sense for someone like me," Rutherford said. "Peter has been my longtime boss and friend and I know what he's put into hockey in general and especially into the growth of hockey here. I thought it was a good opportunity for me personally to help in some way and strengthen the future of the franchise."
Karmanos said he had sold about $22 million in equity of the franchise, and was looking to sell another $20 million in equity in the next six months.
"We have a good group of investors in the first round," Rutherford said. "Now we will meet with other people for another group in the next few months. We'll see where it goes. I think more will want to jump on board."
Karmanos said another important step would be to increase the season-ticket base from 13,000 to 14,000. Doing that, he said, would allow the team to spend more on player salaries and better compete with teams such as the Washington Capitals that spend close to the NHL salary cap.
"Going forward it would be nice to have that flexibility," he said.
Goodmon noted the Hurricanes are "Peter's team" and that Karmanos and his management team would continue to make the hockey-related decisions.
"Our group just wants for the team to be successful and we'll do what we can to help," Goodmon said. "We're helping them set some roots to help the team grow even more here."
Fred Whitney, who moved to Raleigh in 1974, has been a Canes season-ticket holder since 1999 and said he has supported such Hurricanes-backed initiatives as the Kids 'N Community Foundation. He said the Hurricanes were a vital part of the Triangle and added he would like to see the relationship between the team and the community continue to grow.
"Look how the people of St. Louis love the Cardinals," Whitney said. "They are such a huge part of that city. That's what we want, for the people here to have that kind of love for the Hurricanes."