Sport Who is Tom Dundon? What to know about the Hurricanes' prospective new owner

02:35  08 december  2017
02:35  08 december  2017 Source:   Sporting News

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For the first time since the Islanders and Coyotes changed ownership in 2014, the NHL will welcome a new player to its exclusive group with the pending sale of the Hurricanes from longtime owner Peter Karmanos to Tom Dundon, a Texas billionaire and newcomer to the professional sports landscape.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced the completion of a purchase agreement Thursday at the NHL's Board of Governors meeting in West Palm Beach, Fla., in which Dundon will buy a 52 percent stake in the Raleigh, N.C.-based franchise, valued around $500 million. Karmanos would retain a 48 percent minority stake.

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The deal hasn't closed and won't become official until a formal vetting process takes place, but the news signals the end to the Hurricanes' long-rumored sale.

So, who is Dundon? And, most importantly, is the franchise in danger of relocating from its home of 20 years?


a group of people racing each other on a snow covered field: Carolina Hurricanes © (Getty Images) Carolina Hurricanes

While the Dallas-based businessman is likely anonymous to most hockey fans, you've probably heard about his most successful venture.

Dundon, 45, is the primary investor in Top Golf, the wildly popular franchise of tricked-out recreational driving ranges popping up around the country. The closest Top Golf to Raleigh recently opened across the state in Charlotte, but it's a safe bet one will arrive to the Triangle soon enough.

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Remember me · Forgot password? New to Twitter? Sign up. frank_seravalli's profile. Say a lot with a little. When you see a Tweet you love, tap the heart — it lets the person who wrote it know you I’ve heard rumors of Dundon moving the canes to Jacksonville, Fl #Sources. 2 replies 0 retweets 0 likes.

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Dundon's exact net worth isn't public information, but his history of business dealings point to well above $1 billion. Dubbed a “brilliant executive and investor" in a 2015 Dallas Morning News story, he made his fortune as CEO of Santander Consumer USA, a company which provides auto loans to buyers with poor credit. He stepped aside as Santander CEO in 2015, walking away (under scrutinous circumstances) with his 10 percent stake worth about $900 million, and started the Dallas investment firm DCP.

Dundon's most successful investment to date, without question, has been with Top Golf, a private company which carries an approximate valuation north of $2.7 billion.

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Will the Hurricanes relocate?

In terms of moving the Hurricanes, Dundon told TSN Thursday "we like it where it is."

Take it as public posturing if you will, but Karmanos, who bought the Whalers in 1994 and moved the franchise from Hartford, Conn., to Raleigh in 1997, has maintained he would only sell his majority stake to a buyer who agreed to stay put. The agreement reportedly includes a standard clause which prevents Dundon from moving the team within seven years of purchase.

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The Hurricanes turned a $3 million profit in 2017, according to Forbes, but a decade of financial hardship has made the franchise prime fodder for relocation rumors. Coincidentally, the team's sweetheart lease to play at PNC Arena runs until 2024. That's not necessarily a sign of things to come, but a lot can change in seven years and the building will be 25 years old by then.

"The real consideration was, am I going to buy a franchise that operates in Raleigh, not buy a franchise that I can perhaps move somewhere else?" Karmanos said, referring to Dundon's thinking during the negotiation process.

Bettman reiterated the team is to remain in Raleigh long term.

“This is not a team that will be moved," he said.

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