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Sports Turns Into Private Equity Playground

The sale of the St. Louis Blues of the National Hockey League may give the first insight into how a financial buyer exits a team. In March 2011, the Blues' chairman Dave Checketts, formerly of MSG, said he would look to sell the team after its 70% owner TowerBrook Capital Partners decided it wants out of its Blues investment after just five years of ownership.

The announcement came as the franchise showed signs of profitability that could turn make the investment profitable in a sale.

Since TowerBrook's 2006 investment, the finances of the Blues suffered as a result of a purging of stars and poor on-ice play. However, the team currently tops the Western Conference on a string of smart signings and a crop of young stars. To be seen is whether a team sale imposed by financial owners cuts short a revival in the franchise, which would have fans singing the blues. So far the Blues have had tough luck finding a buyer.

Watch for a L.A. Dodgers and St. Louis Blues sale resolution to speak volumes about how private equity may take an increasing role in sports through the buying and selling of teams.

New York Mets fans may also want to watch with interest, as a resolution to their teams financial and onfield woes, not to mention the legal battles of its owners, are all still unclear. Recently, hedge fund magnate Steven A. Cohen bought shares in the Mets, after an ambitious $200 million stake buy from long-time fan David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital was tabled.

Meanwhile, the Phoenix Coyotes are still in need of a new owner after the NHL bought the team out of bankruptcy.

-- Written by Antoine Gara in New York

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