After being on the market for seven months, the Ottawa Senators have found a new owner. Reports confirm that Montreal Canadiens part-owner Michael Andlauer has reached a final agreement to purchase the Senators, pending an official announcement by the NHL, the estate of late team owner Eugene Melnyk, and Galatioto Sports Partners, the New York-based firm overseeing the sale.
The sale price for the franchise is nearly $1 billion, setting a new record for NHL franchise sales. This surpasses the previous record of $900 million paid by Fenway Sports Group in 2021 for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The bidding process had faced criticism for its slow progress, leading to frustration among fans and bidders. Toronto businessman Steve Apostolopoulos recently exited the bidding, leaving three groups in the running. However, Neko Sparks' attempt to become the league's first Black majority owner fell short.
Under the ownership of Eugene Melnyk, who purchased the Senators and their home arena, the Canadian Tire Centre, for $92 million in 2003, the team faced financial challenges despite reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2007. By the time of Melnyk's passing in March 2022, the team's debt was estimated to be around $250 million due to consistent operating losses.
Galatioto Sports Partners was hired by Melnyk's daughters, Olivia and Anna, to handle the sale. The New York-based firm put the team on the market in November, and the responsibility of building a new arena in downtown Ottawa will now fall to the new ownership group.
The sale garnered significant interest, with 16 groups submitting bids, including notable figures. However, the Remington Group, supported by real estate mogul Christopher Bratty and Vancouver actor Ryan Reynolds, dropped out of contention. Apostolopoulos also withdrew his bid due to frustrations with the sale's pace.
With the purchase agreement finalized, the NHL will conduct an investigation into the new ownership group as part of the application process. This investigation typically involves assessing the financial resources and backgrounds of each member. Following the investigation, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman will submit the application to the Board of Governors for a vote, requiring at least three-fourths approval (24 or more votes) to confirm the new owner.
The sale of the Ottawa Senators marks a significant turning point for the franchise, bringing new hope and possibilities under Michael Andlauer's ownership.