Inside the NHL
If ownership has its privileges, then there must be plenty of folks feeling privileged when it comes to Seattle’s NHL team.
That team has taken on a slew of additional minority owners locally, nationwide and in Canada that have yet to be formally announced. The Seattle Times reported a few months back that Montreal lawyer Mitch Garber, the longtime head of Cirque du Soleil and one of those trying to revive the MLB Expos in that city, had joined the Seattle group headed by billionaire investment banker David Bonderman and Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer.
But it turns out there are plenty more owners beyond Garber, many with interesting stories. One is married to the actress that first played Wonder Woman, another got his fingertip bitten off rescuing a restaurant employee from a man threatening her, while yet another paid a princely sum for Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s rental house.
There’s also the recycling king of Toronto and, for local flavor, the head of Seattle-based Zillow in addition to a former vice president of the Bellevue High School football team’s booster club.
“We’ve said from the beginning we were going to add additional owners, and that’s what we’ve done,’’ NHL Seattle president and CEO Tod Leiweke said. “Keep in mind that a lot of these people were there from the beginning and some were added later on.’’
The NHL mandated a minimum $5 million buy-in price for ownership stakes.
Some of the owners were already known to Leiweke. Others were more familiar with his brother, Tim, head of the Oak View Group developer that is redoing KeyArena, or to Bonderman and Bruckheimer and bigger local owners such as Adrian Hanauer and the Wright family.
The money paid by the additional owners taken on will no doubt help efforts to pay those additional costs of the $900 million KeyArena overhaul. At least some of the cost increase was self-inflicted, driven by spruced-up luxury amenities inside the arena any owner would be proud of.
Among the more interesting of the previously undisclosed owners is Robert A. Altman, married since 1984 to actress Lynda Carter, who famously played the original Wonder Woman on the 1970s television series. The pair have two children and reside in Maryland, where they are known as a D.C. “power couple’’ for their Democratic Party work. Altman is a co-founder and CEO of video-game publisher ZeniMax Media and heavily involved in the region’s gaming innovation and design sector.
Another owner is Toronto lawyer Peter Brauti, one of Canada’s top criminal defenders of police officers and an owner of several restaurants. In 2007, the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Brauti was hailed a “hero” for twice grappling with a drunken McDonald’s patron that had threatened an elderly female cashier.
Brauti physically threw the patron out of the restaurant, only to have him return. He was in the process of throwing him out a second time when the patron bit off the tip of his finger.
Another Toronto owner of our incoming NHL team is Ted Manziaris, co-founder and president of the Turtle Island Recycling company. Manziaris and a college buddy got their fledgling company launched big time in the early 1990s by agreeing to a last-minute overnight cleanup of Maple Leaf Gardens before Bobby Orr’s annual charity event. They had only just randomly handed their business cards to the head of janitorial services at the fabled former NHL arena and got a call back at 11 p.m. that night. A book mention of the anecdote quotes Manziaris saying they “rounded up some homeless guys” and got the job done by morning — landing the arena’s full-time cleaning contract.
There’s also Behdad Eghbali, the San Francisco-based head of Clearlake Capital, who last August made headlines with a $50 million purchase of the 14-bedroom Malibu rental home used by singer Beyoncé and her mogul husband, Jay-Z.
Former longtime Fox Sports executive David Nathanson, instrumental in landing FIFA World Cup rights for the network and who now serves as chairman and CEO of Falcon Water Technologies, is another new owner. So is real-estate scion and film producer Sam Slater.
More locally, there’s Joe Razore, vice president of the Bellevue-based Broderick Group commercial real-estate firm and whose father, Warren, ran one of the nation’s largest private garbage-collection companies before selling for a reported $400 million in 1998. His family was involved for years in coaching Bellevue High’s football team and funding its booster club — with Razore serving as the club vice president — until being named as part of an independent investigative report that resulted in sanctions against the program.
Beyond Razore, there’s Lee Rolfe, a trustee at the Seattle-based philanthropic Grousemont Foundation and member of the Space Needle-owning Wright family. Her brothers, David and Jeff, are also NHL Seattle minority owners, while her husband, Stuart Rolfe, manages the Wright Hotels chain that owns the downtown Sheraton and Cedarbrook Lodge.
Zillow co-founder Lloyd Frink is another local owner, as are real-estate mavens Len Evans and the Lott Family. Rounding out the locals is John Meisenbach, president of financial-services company MCM.
Additional owners from outside Seattle include Todd Sisitsky, an executive with Bonderman’s TPG Capital firm. There’s also Isser Elishis, managing partner of the Toronto-based Waterton Global Resources private equity firm, as well as hedge-fund chief Marc Stad of Dragoneer Investment Group, who recently appeared in Fortune magazine’s “40 under 40’’ segment of up-and-coming business leaders.
Safe to say, it could get awfully crowded in the owners’ suite come opening night.