RALEIGH — The Carolina Hurricanes' new investment partners took a "real leap of faith," team owner Peter Karmanos Jr. said Friday.
"When you invest as a minority investor in a sports team where it's difficult to figure out the value of the sports team, you sort of have to have a leap of faith," Karmanos said at a news conference at the RBC Center. "They know they're not going to come in and say, 'Geez, I think it's time to trade so-and-so' and have that happen, all right?
"It's very encouraging that they thought enough of the Hurricanes and thought enough of our organization to make those kind of investments." The investment partners, who include Canes president and general manager Jim Rutherford, were announced Thursday.
Karmanos said the new ownership group could help add approximately $5 million to $10 million a year in revenue. He said that would come through their involvement in the community to help increase season-ticket sales and from a boost in advertising revenue.
Karmanos said Thursday he had sold about $22 million in equity in the team. He hopes to sell another $20 million or so in the next 12 months to other local investors. One of the new partners is Capitol Broadcasting, which owns WRAL-TV, WRAZ-TV and several area media outlets. Karmanos smiled when asked if the Canes, whose games are broadcast locally by Fox Sports Carolinas, might look to start their own regional network.
"I'm sure people at Fox Sports Carolinas are worried about a sports network," he said. "Right now, we'd like to concentrate on hockey. Starting a sports network is really a hard thing to do. ...
"The people who pay us for our local TV rights are very aware of that. I think we're going to probably work out a deal with them early, because they don't like the fact that might be a possibility. As long as we can get a decent deal from Fox Sports, we're not going to worry about setting up a network."
Asked if the influx of new revenue would enable the Canes to increase their payroll, Karmanos said, "We'd like to have the flexibility budget-wise to go to the top (of the salary cap), if we think we need to. But we're not going to just throw money at players to get to the top of the range."