Brad Banister stood up and begged for corporate support Wednesday, but his team’s saviour seems to be just waiting in the wings.
When the Calgary Roughnecks owner gathered local media to his offices, he said he didn’t want to discuss the Calgary Flames and the possibility of them rescuing the National Lacrosse League franchise from its current financial problems by buying them.
However, sources have told the Sun that the Flames have made at least two offers to buy the Riggers in the past, including one recently.
An offer of about $2 million four or so years ago was apparently rejected, possibly because it included a provision that Banister — who also serves as president and general manager of the club — would no longer be involved with the Roughnecks following the sale.
A more recent offer of about $1.7 million — apparently tabled in the last few weeks — was reportedly rejected by Banister, as well, because the price was too low and he also would not stay involved with the team.
Banister, who officially put the team for sale prior to the start of the season, stood before the media Wednesday and said his club is in dire straits, pleading for an investor or some local companies to buy rink board or floor advertising and help him keep the team afloat.
Flames president Ken King has refused to talk specifics about any interest in buying the Roughnecks. When asked Wednesday about whether he has rejected two offers from the Flames, Banister did not confirm or deny it, instead declining to talk about the specifics of any dealings with the NHlL club he leases floor time from at the Saddledome, fearing he might upset the apple cart.
“I can’t talk about it,” Banister said. “I’m in discussions with them … They need to know what’s going on because they have dates (at the Saddledome).
“This whole thing is Calgary Roughnecks based and not Calgary Flames.”
Banister said he would walk away from the team if he needs to, but added: “I would love to stay on. This is where my heart and soul has been for 10 years. I have to check my ego. It’s more important that this team stays here.”
Part of the problem with finding another potential buyer is that Banister’s made it seem that the Roughnecks can’t possibly make money under their current structure — leasing the Dome and only getting revenue from ticket sales or sponsorship. He’s said as much publicly.
The team doesn’t play again until March 5 at Philadelphia, and if the financial issues aren’t resolved, it’s unclear if the league would step in to keep the team afloat. The NLL head office has declined to answer queries about that possibility.
So, the questions remains: If the Flames are willing to buy the cash-strapped team, why hasn’t Banister sold to a group that could not only save the club but raise its profile in the city significantly?
“I’m interested in selling to anybody as long as the team stays in this city,” Banister said.
“At the moment, I’m trying to make this thing work. I can’t expect the (Flames) to jump out and be the saviours.
“I can’t make them buy it. If they choose to, the door is always open for Ken and his crew.”
We’ll see if that’s actually true now.