|02-25-2005, 05:05 PM||#1|
lets go partner
Join Date: Oct 2004
A buck for a duck?
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) - The Walt Disney Co. agreed to sell the Anaheim Mighty Ducks to billionaire Henry Samueli and his wife Susan.
Samueli's company operates the Arrowhead Pond, the Mighty Ducks' home arena.
The deal, announced Friday by Samueli, is subject to approval by the NHL. However, it won't be on the agenda Tuesday when the board of governors meet in New York, said Bill Daly, the NHL chief legal officer.
Despite the ongoing lockout that forced the cancellation of the hockey season, the pending sale is not expected to be different than others in the past.
Samueli said that the deal with Disney was struck ''pretty much independent of what's going on between the league and the players.''
''Disney has had them up for sale for quite a while and we've been negotiating with them,'' he said in a phone interview. ''This was a natural next step. The synergy was there since we already are operating the Arrowhead Pond.
''We're buying the team with a long-term plan in mind. We're assuming this (the labour dispute) will get settled shortly. We're assuming things will get cleaned up and we'll have a long and healthy future with the team.''
Samueli said he fully intends to keep the team at the Pond, and that he won't be changing the name to Los Angeles Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. Arte Moreno, who bought the Angels from Disney in 2003, recently caused a stir by changing the team's name from Anaheim Angels to Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
''My wife and I are longtime residents of Orange County and supporters of Orange County and Anaheim, and we're happy to use the name Anaheim,'' Samueli said. ''The Mighty Ducks have become a wonderful asset to this community, with a terrific following, a history of winning and a strong nucleus of outstanding young prospects and talented veterans.''
Disney paid $50 million US for the Ducks to join the NHL as an expansion franchise in 1992. Samueli's initial offer to Disney reportedly was in the $50 million to $60 million range.
Although the Ducks were Western Conference champions and went to the Stanley Cup final during the 2002-2003 season, Disney has had them on the market for years.
''We are confident that Henry and Susan Samueli will bring continued success to the Ducks, and we will remain among the biggest fans of the team going forward,'' Disney chief executive Michael Eisner said.
Samueli, co-founder, chairman of the board and chief technical officer of Broadcom Corp., believes the Ducks will be able to lure fans back when the labour dispute is settled.
''It's never good for the fan base when you have a lockout, but the Mighty Ducks have done really well over the years,'' he said. ''We will make sure we do everything in our power to make it a winning team and a profitable team.
''I think we can restore confidence in the sport not only here, but across the country.''
The team's whimsical name, bestowed by Eisner after the Disney movie of the same title, and their distinctly bright uniforms and duck calls from the fans helped make the Mighty Ducks a hit both at the gate and in the merchandising department the first few years.
Attendance eventually began to lag, then there was a resurgence when the spectacular goaltending of Jean-Sebastien Giguere propelled the Ducks into their first Stanley Cup final.
Although Anaheim lost to New Jersey in seven games, Samueli - an avid fan of many sports - recalled: ''For me personally, those were some of the most exciting sports events. My wife and I were at every home game, and it was something, the excitement of the crowds, the noise.''
The Ducks failed to make the playoffs the following season, and attendance dwindled again. But that didn't affect Samueli, who might be the Ducks' second most fervent supporter - behind only his wife.
''She is very excited, maybe more excited than I am,'' he said, laughing.
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