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Pocklington wants to go public with Oilers

February 5, 1997

EDMONTON (AP) _ The man who was burned in effigy for threatening to move the Edmonton Oilers and for trading Wayne Gretzky is asking fans and other investors to buy shares in the NHL club.

Peter Pocklington, heavily in debt to the taxpayer-owned Alberta Treasury Branches, said Wednesday most of the money generated by the public offering will go to pay that debt.

``One of the things this will do is cement the team in a small market,″ Pocklington told a news conference, defending himself against criticism he has previously held the city hostage by threatening to move the Oilers elsewhere.

``It will give the Oilers a chance to stay in Edmonton.″

When pressed, Pocklington said if the effort to go public with his Oilers, as well as the Edmonton Trappers of baseball’s Pacific Coast League and indoor soccer’s Edmonton Drillers fails to be successful, it doesn’t mean he will move the Oilers.

He is following the lead of the NHL’s Florida Panthers, a club that went public recently. Its share price has tripled, now trading at about $32.

Pocklington hopes to have the details for his proposal worked out by this spring and, pending NHL and regulatory approval, expects to put shares in a new sports-entertainment company up for sale on Canadian stock exchanges.

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