Dundon agrees to buy Hurricanes

NHL team finally sold, but Karmanos will hold on to minority share

The Carolina Hurricanes take the ice at PNC Arena. (Eamon Queeney / North State Journal)

Tom Dundon wanted to own the Carolina Hurricanes. Peter Karmanos Jr. wanted to stay involved. Both got what they wanted, with the team announcing Thursday that the Dallas entrepreneur and philanthropist has signed an agreement to purchase a majority stake in the team.

“I am thrilled to continue to build upon what Peter Karmanos started in Raleigh,” said Dundon. “The Hurricanes are a team on the rise, and I believe we have an opportunity to take the franchise to the next level. I’m ready to get to work.”

Pending league approval and the finalization of the sale, Dundon will take control of all team operations.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said from the board of governors meeting in Manalapan, Fla., on Thursday that the franchise will be staying put.

“I want to address one manor about as crystal clear and as absolute terms as I can: Tom Dundon is buying his interest in the Hurricanes to have the Hurricanes in Carolina,” Bettman said. “This is not a team that is being moved. The rumors that it might be moving somewhere else are absolutely incorrect, made up, fabrications, wrong, wrong, wrong.”

Dundon, who runs a Dallas-based private investment firm, is the majority owner of Employer Direct Healthcare and serves as the co-chairman of Topgolf.

“Tom has had tremendous success in business, and I fully expect that to continue as he takes control of the Hurricanes,” said Karmanos. “I look forward to working with him, and bringing another Stanley Cup to North Carolina.”

Bettman sought to assure Hurricanes fans that Dundon is committed to keeping the franchise in North Carolina and has no plans to move the team to his home state.

“The club is not going anywhere with Mr. Dundon’s purchase, and for those of you who know geography, the fact that he lives in Dallas and that happens to be in the same state as Houston has nothing to do with anything,” Bettman said. “He’s buying the club to have it in Carolina. I want to be crystal clear on this because it’s really not fair to the players, the fans or anybody in the Triangle that this rumor has started. It’s just not accurate.”

An interview with Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis was aired during Thursday’s game broadcast from San Jose, and Francis said Dundon has asked a lot of questions and is prepared to make the franchise successful on the ice and in the community.

“I think it’s exciting for Tom,” Francis said. “He’s excited to be a part of this and he’s got a great business mind, and I look forward to working with him moving forward.”

Karmanos, who originally purchased the franchise in 1994, will maintain an equity stake in the team. In 1997, Karmanos relocated the team from Hartford, Conn., to North Carolina, where it has captured three division titles, two conference titles and the 2006 Stanley Cup.

In 2015, Karmanos was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in the category of Builder, in recognition of his more than four-decades of achievements and contributions to the sport.

Dundon’s interest in the team came to light in late November and negotiations advanced fast than the previous public suitor, sports attorney Chuck Greenberg.

Dundon — who became a billionaire thanks in part to the more than $700 million payout he got from Santader Consumer USA, the company he founded in 1995 — has the money to finance the purchase alone, something Greenberg could not do and became a hurdle as he tried to court other investors for his bid.

The Sports Xchange contributed to this report