NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -The Nashville Predators have signed a letter of intent to sell the team to a local group of investors trying to keep the NHL franchise from leaving town, the team's owner announced Wednesday.
The group of eight partners includes David Freeman, chief executive officer of 36 Venture Capital LLC, and Herb Fritch, CEO of HealthSpring Inc. The only partner from outside the Nashville area is William ``Boots'' Del Biaggio III, a California venture capitalist who is a part-owner of the San Jose Sharks.
Freeman has put down a $10 million deposit in an effort to make sure the deal is completed, owner Craig Leipold said.
``I'm excited to pass the torch to David and to Boots and their group. I know that they are all committed to Nashville,'' Leipold said.
A total value of the bid was not immediately announced, but it was expected to be about $180 million - much less than the $220 million offered by Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie in May when Leipold last announced he had signed a letter of intent to sell his team.
Leipold has been trying to sell his franchise because he said he has lost $70 million since being awarded the team in June 1997.

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