Howard Baldwin, a founding father of the Hartford Whalers, and partner Morris Belzberg reached an agreement on Wednesday to buy the North Stars and say they will keep them in Minnesota.
Baldwin wouldn't comment on details of the deal with the current owners, George and Gordon Gund, except to say that it was subject to league approval at the Board of Governors meeting in Chicago on Tuesday.
But asked if he and Belzberg would keep the team in Minnesota, Baldwin said, "Of course."
George Gund said last week that the purchase price would be $31.5 million. That is about 60% as much as the Gunds had set as a minimum offer three months ago, when they announced they would either sell the team or move it to California.
As part of the deal, the Gunds have asked for an expansion team in the San Francisco area in 1991-92, a year earlier than the league had planned to expand. The Toronto Sun reported that the North Stars would share their roster with the expansion team.
The Gunds have signed a two-year lease with the Cow Palace in Daly City, just outside of San Francisco. They would then move their new team to an arena in San Jose that will be completed in 1992 or 1993.
The Gunds have feuded with the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, which owns Met Center in suburban Bloomington, concerning improvements to the building. They said they have lost $16 million the past three years.
Baldwin said he would listen to offers from Marv Wolfenson and Harvey Ratner, owners of the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves, who are building an arena in downtown Minneapolis. That arena is scheduled to open in October. But Baldwin said he was leaning toward staying at the Met Center.