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Hollywood producer Oren Koules poised to buy Tampa Bay Lightning

TAMPA, Fla. - The Tampa Bay Lightning may soon have some new owners who will bring a Hollywood feel to the NHL franchise.

The team, owned by Michigan-based Palace Sports & Entertainment since 1999, announced Wednesday that it has been sold to OK Hockey LLC, a group controlled by Los Angeles TV and movie producer Oren Koules.

"We look forward to a smooth transition and a terrific future as he assumes control of the Lightning," Palace Sports and Entertainment president Tom Wilson said. "Oren is a passionate hockey man who cares deeply about the franchise and the Tampa Bay community."

Koules was part of a group of bidders who tried to purchase the team last year, but the deal unravelled before it was approved by the NHL. The NHL still has to approve this deal, which is expected to be completed in 3 1/2 months.

"We're very excited about today's announcement and look forward to the day when we can make a difference for the Lightning and its fans," Koules said.

The Lightning, who won the Stanley Cup in 2004, are last in the Eastern Conference. The team made the playoffs the past two seasons, but were eliminated both times in the opening round.

The deal also includes the leasehold rights to the St. Pete Times Forum and approximately 5 1/2 acres of land near the arena.

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