Dallas Stars win OK for bankruptcy plan, team sale

Fri Nov 18, 2011 5:34pm EST

* Vancouver businessman Tom Gaglardi to buy hockey team

* No other bidders surfaced

* Stars had been owned by Tom Hicks group

By Jonathan Stempel and Tom Hals

Nov 18 (Reuters) - The Dallas Stars hockey team won court approval of its bankruptcy reorganization, clearing the way for the team to be sold for $265 million to Vancouver businessman Tom Gaglardi.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Peter Walsh approved the plan at a hearing on Friday, court records show.

No bidders offered to compete with Gaglardi for the team at a court-supervised auction. The National Hockey League has approved the sale. The team had filed for Chapter 11 protection from creditors on Sept. 15.

Gaglardi, 43, is president of Northland Properties Corp. The family business has properties that include Sandman Hotels, Inns & Suites; and more than 100 restaurants including Denny's and Moxie's. It also owns the Kamloops Blazers junior hockey team in British Columbia.

A formal announcement that Gaglardi has taken ownership will be made on Monday, said Jim Rossiter, a partner at Baker & McKenzie which represents him.

"Tom is the real deal," Rossiter said in an interview. "You have an owner who is engaged (and) loves the game, and he is in the hospitality business. He has roots in Texas, and he will not move the team. Dallas is a wonderful market and Tom is the right owner."

Hicks Sports Group, led by private equity executive Tom Hicks, had owned the Stars, but lost control to his lenders after defaulting on $525 million of debt in 2009.

The default also led to the 2010 bankruptcy and sale of Hicks' other major sports holding, the Texas Rangers baseball team.

Among other sports teams to enter bankruptcy in the last several years were the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers baseball teams, as well as the Phoenix Coyotes hockey team.

Lawyers for the Stars were not immediately available for comment.

The case is In re: Dallas Stars LP, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware, No. 11-12935.