Balsillie wants to move NHL's Coyotes to Ontario
Canadian billionaire technology magnate Jim Balsillie is continuing his pursuit of an NHL team, offering to buy the financially ailing Phoenix Coyotes if he can move the team to Southern Ontario.
Balsillie said his US$212.5-million offer is conditional on moving the National Hockey League team north of the border.
"This is a very serious and committed offer by me," he said at a press conference in Toronto Tuesday night.
The Coyotes franchise was formerly the Winnipeg Jets between 1979 and 1996.
"I just really look forward to this opportunity to bring a seventh team to Canada in the un-served market of southern Ontario," he said.
However, Balsillie declined to comment specifically what city would host the team.
"What I will say is, I think this is an enormously exciting opportunity," he said. "I don't have to tell anyone here it's the greatest game in the whole wide world."
Balsillie, the 48-year-old co-CEO of Waterloo, Ont.-based Research In Motion -- which makes the BlackBerry wireless device -- has also offered the franchise US$17 million in bridge financing to keep it alive in advance of the sale.
If he were successful in getting the league's approval, the Coyotes would become the NHL's seventh Canadian franchise.
Balsillie had previously tried to purchase and move the Nashville Predators to Hamilton, Ont. in 2007, but the league rebuffed him. He has also previously expressed interest in the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Balsillie reached out to Canadians to help him in his bid to establish a seventh NHL team in Canada. He's asking fans to log on to www.makeitseven.ca to add their voices.
"It's an exciting time for professional hockey in Southern Ontario and it has nothing to do with the playoffs," the website says.
So far, Balsillie said he has been "floored" by the response by fans flocking to the website.
"Thousands upon thousands are flooding in to voice their support for it, so I think it affirms that there is an un-served market," he said.
"I am just incredibly excited as a hockey fan, a passionate hockey fan"