Senators begin sale process, say team must stay in Ottawa

Senators Sports & Entertainment on Friday announced that the Ottawa Senators are for sale, with a condition being that the team must remain in Ottawa.

Team chairman Sheldon Plener said in a statement that it was “a necessary and prudent step to connect with those deeply interested parties who can show us what their vision is for the future of the team.”

Senators owner Eugene Melnyk died on March 28 at age 62 after battling an illness. He had previously said he planned to leave the team to his daughters, Anna and Olivia.

Any sale of the team would require approval by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and the league’s board of governors.

The next board of governors meeting is scheduled for December in Florida. However, because of the additional layers involved, sources told ESPN’s Emily Kaplan that it is unlikely that a sale would be approved by then and instead would be a monthslong process.

When Alex Meruelo purchased a majority stake of the Arizona Coyotes in 2019, the league included a clause in the contract that prevented the team from applying for relocation for seven years. The Senators sale could include a similar clause, sources told ESPN.

The Senators have retained Galatioto Sports Partners, a firm specializing in the sports finance and advisory business, as a financial advisor in the sale process. Any sale would be contingent on a background check.

Melnyk purchased the Senators in 2003 for $92 million at a time when the franchise faced bankruptcy and a tenuous future in the nation’s capital.

A recent valuation from sports-business news outlet Sportico listed the Senators at $655 million.

The team’s day-to-day operations has been handled by the board of directors since Melnyk’s death.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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