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Lauries Call Off Plan To Buy Team

January 21, 2000

ST. LOUIS (AP) _ Bill and Nancy Laurie, a billionaire couple that purchased the NHL’s St. Louis Blues in September, on Thursday called off their efforts to buy the NBA’s Vancouver Grizzlies and move the team to St. Louis.

The Lauries, from Columbia, Mo., announced in a statement that they had terminated their agreement and would ``explore other methods″ of bringing an NBA team to the city.

``That remains our objective, and we intend to explore all options, including the possibility of securing an NBA expansion franchise,″ Bill Laurie said.

The Lauries signed a contract to buy the Grizzlies for $200 million in September, about three weeks after they bought the Blues. The deal was contingent on relocating the team, which would have given the Lauries two tenants in the 5-year-old Kiel Center, but was met with resistance from NBA owners.

Laurie said others in the league felt Vancouver hadn’t been given an ``adequate opportunity to demonstrate their support for the Grizzlies.″

The Kiel Center was included in the Lauries’ $100 million purchase of the Blues.

Nancy Laurie is an heir to the Wal-Mart fortune. Bill Laurie is a former point guard at Memphis.

In April, the Lauries bid $400 million to buy the Colorado Avalanche of the NHL, the Denver Nuggets of the NBA and Denver’s new Pepsi Center, but lost to a rival group that bid $461 million.

St. Louis has not had an NBA team since the Hawks left in 1968.

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