Harvey Mackay, who six years ago led a ticket buyout to keep the Minnesota Twins from leaving town, said Thursday he is ready, willing and able to try to buy the North Stars and keep the NHL team in the Twin Cities.
Mackay said he is leading a small group of investors who have sent a letter to co-owner Gordon Gund asking to enter into negotiations to purchase the Stars.
The group, known as North Star Hockey Partners for Minnesota, has also sent a letter to NHL President John Ziegler, asking him to inform the league's Board of Governors of the attempt to buy the team.
Mackay, a Minneapolis civic and sports booster, is chairman and chief executive officer of Mackay Envelope Corp. He is the author of "Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," rated one of the top business books of 1888.
Mackay would not disclose who was in the group. He said it was made up of people from the region and that it is only interested at present in purchasing the Stars. Stars president Lou Nanne is heading another group that is trying to obtain an expansion franchise to replace the Stars.
Gordon Gund and his brother, George, said Wednesday that they would either sell the hockey team by March 19, leaving it in Minnesota, or move it to California and do what they could to bring an expansion team to the Twin Cities.
That was after the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission rejected their demand to have $15 million in renovations done to Met Center in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington. The Gunds said $50 million was the asking price for anyone interested in buying the Stars.
"A lot of people have requested that I try to do something to keep the Stars in Minnesota," Mackay said from San Francisco, where he was appearing as part of a promotional tour for his second book.
"Some of the callers ware investors. The governor (Rudy Perpich) called. Some of the (facilities) commissioners, way more than one, also called.
" ... It's a major asset of the community and it would be a travesty if it was lost. This community has responded to every crisis and I feel the group we have put together is extremely viable and able to get this done."
Mackay said he had talked with Gordon Gund late Wednesday night and informed of him the group's intentions. Mackay said he hopes to be able to meet with Gund within a week to begin negotiations. Gund could not be reached for comment, but in a prepared statement said he had received Mackay's letter and had no comment because negotiations hadn't started.
A source in the Twin Cities said that the Mackay group was basing its hopes for success on two notions:
* THat it can successfully negotiate a price of less than $50 million.
* That the league's other owners don't want the team to leave Minnesota, and will encourage the Gunds to sell, rather than to move the team.
Mackay said it's also too early to talk about where the team would play if his group is able to buy it.
Jim Erickson of the law firm of Larkin, Hoffman, Daly and Lindgren represented Mackay at a news conference Thursday morning to announce the formation of the group.