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CLAIBORNE: New Ownership To Inherit Same Old Problems

Mike Claiborne
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Tom Stillman

Tom Stillman

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The day is finally here. The St. Louis Blues will have a new owner. Here we go again.

For the seventh time in the history of the franchise, ownership will change hands. That is more than all of the pro ownership groups combined in St. Louis in that time span. We have had out-of-towners, carpet baggers, civic leaders, billionaires — and yes, Harry and Ruth — and they all share one common element. They lost money and had to sell.

Now enter the newest member of that club, The Tom Stillman Group. A group made of of St. Louis guys, in some cases “made” guys if you know what I mean. I applaud them for keeping one of my favorite teams in St. Louis. I have a few questions, though:

  1. With the season ticket, concession and local TV money already accounted for, how is this team going to make money?  I know there is a ticket increase coming, but this team has worked from a minimum $15 million deficit for many years on a shoe string budget as it is.  So why do millionaires want to reduce their financial net worth in such a sudden manner?
  2. The most celebrated hockey player ever to lace up skates will join the ownership group: Brett Hull.  Good to have him back, but you have to think Brett is not coming back to St. Louis to be an official greeter at the door on the street that has his name on it.  So what will his role be?  Will he be another seat in the box high above Scottrade that currently houses Doug Armstrong, John      Davidson, Al MacInnnis, Dave Taylor and others?  Sounds like PR man Mike Carusso will have to get more chairs. Or will someone be departing? So just what will Brett do?  If you want to see some internal movement and politicking take place, then you are in for a real treat here.  There will be all sorts of people jockeying for positions — and I don’t mean faceoffs.
  3. With a building that is starting to show some age, I sure hope there is money in the budget to keep things in good shape.  After all, toilet paper for the rest rooms was, at a time, scarce with such a tight budget by the soon-to-be previous regime.
  4. With the Blues already having one of the lower payrolls in the league, how much will they increase?  Will Doug Armstrong be allowed to turn his phone and actually make a deal for a player with a legitimate contract?  The Blues GM did a masterful job putting this team together with bailing wire, so now that they went out and had the sort of regular season that they had — along with how they ended the playoffs — help will be needed and expected by Blues fans.  By the way, it might not be a bad idea to secure the services of Mr. Armstrong for a few more years, as he is a short-timer with respect to his own contract.

Congratulations to the new Blues ownership group. St. Louis says it’s behind you, and well we should be. My only concern is that this ownership group runs into the same obstacles the previous ones did.

If such is the case, and the cash calls become too regular, then I might need to save this blog.  It may be needed in a few years.

Mike Claiborne hosts “The Sports Hub” weeknights from 9p-12a on KMOX.

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