Carolina Hurricanes

Are the Hurricanes on the verge of being sold? Here’s the latest.

Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos.
Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos.

The Carolina Hurricanes could soon have a new majority owner.

Tom Dundon, a Dallas businessman, and Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos Jr. made a presentation Thursday to the executive committee of the NHL board of governors in Manalapan, Fla. Dundon has a purchase agreement to buy a controlling interest in the team and Karmanos, who has owned the franchise since 1994, would remain as a minority owner.

A vote of the board is required for any change in ownership.

In an interview with TSN after the meeting, Karmanos stressed that the team would remain in Raleigh and that it had been a condition of a sale. Karmanos said he will remain a part-owner in a team he brought to North Carolina in 1997.

“It was never really a consideration,” Karmanos said. “The league is not amenable to moving franchises at all.”

Asked by TSN why he had an interest in the Hurricanes, Dundon said, “Pete and I built a relationship. We want to work together, so we’re thinking about it.”

At Thursday's quarterly meeting of the Centennial Authority, the public board that administers PNC Arena, the authority went into closed session to hear an update on the sale from chairman Thomas McCormick, who had previously spoken to Dundon.

"If he indeed acquires the team, it will be of great benefit to the arena and the whole region," McCormick said afterward.

Whether the authority would have to approve the transfer of the arena lease to Dundon would depend on how the sale is structured. If Dundon becomes a part-owner of Gale Force Holdings, the Hurricanes' current parent company that almanages the arena, there would potentially be no alterations to the lease. That would change if Dundon created a new entity to operate the team and arena.

Karmanos joined his former business partner, the late Thomas Thewes, in buying the Harford Whalers in 1994 – former general manager Jim Rutherford also had a share of the team – and relocated the franchise to Raleigh in 1997. Renamed the Carolina Hurricanes, the team moved into PNC Arena in 1999, reached the Stanley Cup final in 2002 and won the Stanley Cup in 2006.

In recent years, Karmanos first looked to add investors in the Canes, then to sell a controlling interest in the team. A group headed by sports attorney Chuck Greenberg put together a term sheet that had Karmanos’ approval, but Greenberg had trouble lining up enough investors to meet Karmanos’ selling price –between $450 million and $500 million, Karmanos said.

Waddell said Dundon attended a preseason exhibition game and was given a tour of PNC Arena and the community.

Dundon, a billionaire, served as CEO and president of Santander Consumer USA, one of the nation’s largest subprime auto lenders, until July 2015. It was reported by Auto Finance News this month that Santander Consumer, which Dundon founded in 1995, agreed to pay Dundon more than $700 million in an exit deal.

Dundon is managing partner at Dundon Capital Partners LLC and CEO and president of Dundon Capital Acquisition Corp. in Dallas.

Dundon was one of the developers in the creation of Trinity Forest Golf Club in southeast Dallas. The course was designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore, who oversaw the many changes to Pinehurst No. 2 before the 2014 U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open.

The PGA Tour selected Trinity Forest to host the AT&T Bryon Nelson, scheduled in May, as the tour shifted the tournament from TPC Las Colinas. Dundon is also a primary investor in the Top Golf national golf-entertainment chain; the closest location is in Charlotte.

The Hurricanes are on the West Coast, playing the second game in a six-game road trip, and face the San Jose Sharks on Thursday. Their next home game is Dec. 16 against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Chip Alexander: 919-829-8945, @ice_chip

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