City of Denver says Sturm’s offer unworkable |

City of Denver says Sturm’s offer unworkable

Bruce Tippets

Officials with Ascent Entertainment Group kept their cards close to their chests Thursday, saying they are still mulling their next move in the stalled sale of two Denver sports teams and a brand-new arena.

Ascent spokesman Charles Russell said neither Ascent nor billionaire Donald Sturm has terminated the agreement under which Sturm was to buy the Denver Nuggets, the Colorado Avalanche and the Pepsi Center from Ascent for $461 million.

Sturm agreed last summer to buy the teams and the Pepsi Center, which opened this fall, for $461 million, but the deal was soured recently by a dispute between Sturm and the city of Denver.

Sturm missed a Monday deadline set by Ascent to resolve that dispute, plunging the purchase deep into doubt and drawing a threat of a lawsuit from Ascent, which said he sought to lower the price by millions of dollars.

A day later, Sturm made another effort to revive the deal, withdrawing the price-cutting concession he had sought from Ascent and offering the city what his lawyers billed as a reasonable resolution to their disagreements.

Sturm asked the city to respond by Thursday morning, but city officials have stressed they will not respond to the offer unless Ascent makes it clear to them that it is still prepared to do a deal with Sturm.

Webb’s spokesman, Andrew Hudson, said the city told Sturm on Thursday that it is no position to negotiate with him.

”We have no indication that Mr. Sturm is still part of the deal,” Hudson said. ”We cannot negotiate with something that’s not there.”

Russell said Ascent has not yet decided what action to take next, and he declined to say whether or not Ascent officials had held any negotiations with Sturm this week.

Russell said that Ascent has no timeline for a decision, but that one could be made at any time.Russell said that Ascent has no timeline for a decision, but that one could be made at any time.

Russell said that Ascent has no timeline for a decision, but that one could be made at any time.

”It’s a very volatile situation,” he said.

Ascent has also said it would consider discussions with other parties that have expressed interest in buying the teams and arena or holding another open auction for the assets.

It is also considering suing Sturm.

Hudson said that even if Ascent should decide to go ahead with a sale to Sturm, the city would not accept the terms Sturm set in his latest offer Tuesday.

He said Denver officials told Sturm in its letter Thursday that ”the demands you guys have put forward were unworkable for the city.”

Mayor Wellington Webb is asking for strong written guarantees stipulating that the teams would remain in Denver for 25 years under any circumstances, even if Sturm, 67, were to die or sell a portion of the assets.

”Donald Sturm has said he has no intention of moving the teams,” Webb said Thursday. ”He’s a man of his word and principle and all we are asking for is a legal document saying what he has said verbally on paper.”

The stalled sale affects Ascent’s proposed merger with Liberty Media Group, which has offered to buy Ascent’s other assets for $513 million but can withdraw the offer at any time if Ascent fails to sell the teams and arena.


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