Hamilton council went behind closed doors last night to consider reactivating an agreement with Waterloo billionaire Jim Balsillie giving him exclusive rights to bring an NHL team to Copps Coliseum.
As part of the deal, it's believed the city is also negotiating to give Balsillie the right to run Hamilton Place and the Convention Centre if he brings a team to town.
The proposal comes on the heels of Balsillie, co-CEO of RIM, the company that makes the BlackBerry communications device, agreeing to buy the NHL's Nashville Predators for $220 million. Balsillie approached the city late last week through Toronto attorney Richard Rodier.
That led to a flurry of behind-the-scenes discussions, including a telephone call between Mayor Fred Eisenberger and Balsillie.
But if the NHL board of governors approves the sale of the Predators, Balsillie is widely expected to move the money-losing team to a new city, possibly in Ontario.
The fact Balsillie moved so quickly to once again sew up exclusive rights to Copps -- rights he let lapse last fall -- indicates Hamilton fits into his plans as either a possible location for the team or as a pawn to leverage other negotiations. Source...