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Predators set news conference to announce deal with local group

The NHL team has called a news conference Wednesday, where they're expected to announce the signing of a letter of intent with a local group trying to keep the franchise in town.

The Predators called a 3:30 p.m. ET news conference, but declined to say what would be discussed.

Owner Craig Leipold has been working with a group of local investors to finalize a bid for the team since flying to New York on July 18 for a meeting with NHL officials.

The local group includes David Freeman, chief executive officer of 36 Venture Capital LLC, and Herb Fritch, CEO of HealthSpring Inc.

Fritch said Tuesday they were close to signing a letter of intent with the team, and Freeman said something could be announced as early as Wednesday.

Neither Freeman nor Fritch responded to messages Wednesday from The Associated Press.

Their bid is expected to be US$180 million - much less than the $220 million offered by Canadian billioinaire Jim Balsillie in May.

Leipold has been trying to sell his franchise because he said he has lost $70 million since being awarded the team in June 1997.

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