Centennial Authority chairman Tom McCormick said Thursday that Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos Jr., while looking to sell the team, is committed to it remaining in Raleigh and continuing to play in PNC Arena.
“Mr. Karmanos has personally assured me within the last six or eight weeks that he fully intends (the team) to be here for the long haul, has no intention of moving away,” McCormick said in an interview. “He would like to sell the team, that’s common knowledge, but I don’t think he has any intentions of it moving, and the fans shouldn’t worry about that.”
The authority, the arena landlord, held its monthly meeting Thursday, and McCormick was asked during the public-comments part of the agenda about news reports Karmanos has been sued for more than $100 million by his three adult sons in Michigan and the concern the reports might have caused for the authority.
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“That’s a family matter between Pete and his children,” McCormick said.
Karmanos has been looking for a buyer or new ownership group for the Hurricanes, preferably one wth local ties. The Canes’ lease with the authority for PNC Arena extends through 2024.
According to news reports, the lawsuit filed last week in Oakland County, Mich., alleges Karmanos Jr. has defaulted on more than $100 million he borrowed from a trust established for his sons, who also alleged the trust was used in various ways to “support the Hurricanes.”
The plaintiffs allege Karmanos Jr. borrowed money from the trust, has failed to meet repayment terms and now owes them $105.7 million. According to the filing, the trust fund was created in 1996 with Compuware stock Karmanos owned, for estate and tax purposes. Karmanos owns 34 percent of the trust, and each of the three sons owns 21.6 percent.
Karmanos has not been available for comment, but said Thursday in a statement, “This is a family matter that has nothing at all to do with the Hurricanes.”
The authority, in the meeting, approved a budget for fiscal 2017 that includes spending $80,000 for a feasibility study for a practice facility for the Hurricanes.
“That’s one of the things the Hurricanes have always wanted, an on-site practice facility,” McCormick said. “We want them to be happy here, so we’re looking into the possibility of building one on-site here.”
Also under consideration is a major expansion of the arena, which opened in 1999. There was discussion Thursday about adding a ribbon board display inside the arena. Neither the Hurricanes nor N.C. State, which shares the arena with the hockey team, would pay for the installation of the ribbon board, which would be used to enhance the game-day experience.
Gale Force, the umbrella company of the Hurricanes, is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the arena and covers any annual operating losses.
Authority member Steve Stroud said Thursday that in most years since the arena opened, Gale Force has absorbed losses.
Stroud that the Hurricanes have become a big part of the community, winning the Stanley Cup in 2006, saying, “I would hate to think where we would be without the Hurricanes.”