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Eric Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes (Bruce Bennett/2009 Getty Images)
Eric Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes (Bruce Bennett/2009 Getty Images)

Streetwise

What's an NHL franchise worth? Add to ...

If you believe Forbes magazine, the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes are a successful example of pro hockey's push into non-traditional U.S. markets.

Forbes' oft-quoted survey on the value of sports franchises pegged the price tag on the Hurricanes, Stanley Cup winners four years ago, at $177-million (U.S.) in a January survey, up an impressive 5 per cent over the last year.

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However, not even Forbes' editors appears to put much faith in these numbers.

Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos Jr. announced over the weekend that he hired investment bank Allen & Co. to help sell a 50 per cent stake in the team. It's the latest move in a process that Mr. Karmanos said started back in 2008, when general partner Thomas Thewes passed away. Mr. Karmanos, a software executive, bought the Hurricanes in 1994 for $48-million.

In an item Tuesday on a possible sale, Forbes national editor Michael Ozanian said: "Despite playing in a great building (RBC Center), I believe he will only get about $85-million for half the club. The folks in North Carolina really don't care about hockey."

Forbes noted that the team has been having trouble filling its arena "despite an average price of just $40, one of the cheapest in the league, and has also had to deal with empty suites because the recession and crumbling housing market has hit their fan base particularly hard."

If the Hurricanes prove a hard sell, what does that imply for the value of the Phoenix Coyotes, a team that Forbes says is worth $138-million, down just 3 per cent over the past year?

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