Ottawa Senators reportedly up for sale

Canadian Tire Centre

A U.S. sports publication is reporting that the Ottawa Senators have retained a financial services firm to explore a sale of the team.

According to a report in Sportico that cites “multiple people familiar with the plans,” Senators owner Eugene Melnyk’s family has hired Galatioto Sports Partners, a specialized financial services firm that focuses on providing non-securities advisory services to the sports industry.

Services include general and venue-related financial advisory, valuations, capital restructuring, dispute resolution, and consulting, according to the New York-based firm’s website.

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Melnyk’s daughters, Anna and Olivia, took over the Senators after their father died in March. The team is now being run by a board of directors.

A Senators spokesperson told OBJ Tuesday afternoon the team had no comment on the report.

Sportico’s most recent valuations estimate the franchise’s worth at US$655 million, up more than 20 per cent over last year.

Big-name potential bidders

Still, the Senators could potentially fetch much more than that on the open market, if other recent sales of NHL clubs are any indication. 

The Pittsburgh Penguins sold for US$900 million last year, while the Nashville Predators are poised to change hands for US$775 million.

If the Senators do go on the block, some big-name local business leaders could be among the bidders.

For example, Roger Greenberg, the executive chairman of the Minto Group and the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, told CTV News in April his family would likely be a part of a new ownership team if the Senators were sold.

The latest report comes after a group led by the Senators signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Capital Commission in June on a plan that could see a new arena built for the team at LeBreton Flats.

Capital Sports Development is proposing to build an NHL arena and events venue surrounded by mixed-use development, located on Albert Street between Preston Street and City Centre Avenue. 

The site was identified for a potential major facility in the 2021 LeBreton Flats Master Concept Plan, reflecting the feedback of more than 5,000 people who participated in public consultations. 

A Toronto native, Melnyk had owned the Senators since 2003 after purchasing the NHL club and the Canadian Tire Centre for US$130 million. He also was a former owner of the St. Michael’s Majors of the Ontario Hockey League.

Melnyk made his mark in business in the 1990s as the founder and former chairman of Biovail Corp., once Canada’s largest pharmaceutical company. He put in an offer for the Senators after Rod Bryden’s deal to reacquire the franchise was unsuccessful. 

Legal wrangling

While the team advanced to the Stanley Cup final in 2007, Melnyk’s relationship with the city began to sour in later years as the team floundered on the ice and at the box office. During the NHL 100 Classic celebrations in late 2017, the owner publicly mused about relocating the team, prompting disillusioned fans to launch a #MelnykOut campaign.

Two years later, Melynk’s bid to build a new arena at LeBreton Flats with John Ruddy’s Trinity Development Group fell apart amid legal wrangling between the partners.

Launched in June 2020, Sportico describes itself as “the default resource for professionals seeking the latest and highest quality news and information in the $500 billion worldwide sports industry.”

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