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Former Tennessee governor Bill Haslam is officially set to be the new owner of the Nashville Predators, the team confirmed in a press release Friday.
Sportico had reported Thursday that the deal was near. Predators Chairman Herb Fritch agreed to sell his majority stake in the team to Haslam, whose brother Jimmy owns the Cleveland Browns. Haslam is expected to become a minority owner in the next few months and within the next few years through “a multi-phased purchase transaction,” will become the franchise’s majority owner.
“From the time our ownership group, made up of day one season ticket holders, gathered together in 2007 to purchase and guarantee the franchise’s future in Nashville, the goal has been to ensure that stewardship of the team is in strong local hands,” said Sean Henry, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Predators and Bridgestone Arena.
“The pending addition of Governor Haslam to the ownership group solidifies that local stewardship for years to come, with the shared philosophy for making SMASHVILLE the most unique sports market in our league and country as our players and coaches compete for the Stanley Cup each season. We are excited and appreciative that he has agreed to join the ownership team.”
Haslam, 63, served as Tennessee’s governor from 2011-19. Per Forbes, Haslam is worth $2.3 billion, while the Predators are valued at $600 million.
Since entering the NHL in 1998, the Predators have grown to have one of the most passionate fanbases in the league. Per ESPN, the Predators played to 100.6% capacity at home this season, second only to the Vegas Golden Knights (104.2%).
Nashville has made the playoffs in 15-of-23 seasons in the NHL and in eight consecutive seasons dating back to 2015. The Predators appeared in their first and only Stanley Cup Final in the 2016-17 season, falling to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games.