May 2, 1990

Howard Baldwin announced that he and business partner Morris Belzberg had come to a provisional agreement to buy the Minnesota North Stars from George and Gordon Gund. Pending NHL approval, the deal would include the Gunds’ pursuit of an expansion franchise for San Jose, with the goal of starting play in the 1991-92 season, a year ahead of the league’s current plans. While the new San Jose arena wouldn’t be ready by then, a North Stars team vice president had met officials from the Cow Palace in Daly City, just south of San Francisco, and had signed a lease to play there in the meantime. The league was expected to discuss and vote on these plans on the 8th.

San Jose Mercury News

April 16, 1990

Per Thomas Farragher of the Mercury News, the city of San Jose said they would be extending the window that provided Howard Baldwin with the exclusive rights to bring an NHL team to the area. With the news that the league had further postponed a decision about the Gund Brothers’ plan to relocate the North Stars and that Baldwin was potentially negotiating a deal with the Gunds to buy the North Stars, providing they brought an expansion team to San Jose, the city decided it was worth waiting a little longer.

“Howard’s been negotiating with the owners of the North Stars for a solution that would not only provide for a team in Minnesota,” said Dean Munro, a city official working on the project, “but also in San Jose. We’re supporting that effort.”

April 9, 1990

Thomas Farragher of the Mercury News wrote that with the NHL postponing its decision on the fate of the North Stars, the fate of a San Jose hockey team got a lot murkier. With the agreement between the city and potential team owner Howard Baldwin scheduled to expire on the 15th, the path forward was unclear. The story speculated that Baldwin could buy the North Stars with the proviso that the current owners of the team, the Gund brothers, would be required to pursue an expansion team in the Bay Area. It was still also possible that the league would approve the Gunds’ request to relocate the team.

An additional complicating factor was that the completion date of a new San Jose arena had been pushed back because the cleanup of toxic soil on the construction site was taking longer than anticipated. Builders had hoped to have it ready for the start of the 1992-93 season, but now they were saying December 1992 was a more likely opening date.

April 3, 1990

Yet again, the NHL postponed a decision regarding the relocation of the Minnesota North Stars to the Bay Area. With three potential buyers on the boil and the hope that a new owner would keep the team in Minnesota, the league’s decision also pushed back any talk of an expansion team. Howard Baldwin, the rights owner for a possible San Jose team headed one of the groups expressing interest in buying the North Stars. The league now said a decision was possible the first week of May if a sale wasn’t worked out in the meantime.

Associated Press

March 28, 1990

The fate of a possible Bay Area NHL franchise became more inextricably linked with that of the Minnesota North Stars when Howard Baldwin, the man tasked with bringing a team to San Jose suggested he was interested in buying the North Stars and keeping them in Minnesota. He later denied that interest and that he was still focused on San Jose, but his responses were equivocal according to the Mercury News.

“I certainly feel that pro hockey should stay in Minnesota,” he told St Paul television station KSTP, but added, “I’m looking for a solution to the problem in Minnesota, but there is no solution that would be acceptable to me unless it involves San Jose getting a franchise.”

Associated Press
St Cloud Times
San Jose Mercury News

March 21, 1990

Mike Nadel of the Associated Press reported that the future of NHL hockey in the Bay Area was put on hold for a bit longer as the league’s board of governors failed to make any decisions regarding either expansion or the relocation request by the Minnesota North Stars.

After the board’s meeting in which they discussed the matters, league president John Ziegler said, “It was not a decision day. The day went according to our expectations.” He added that he expected to have things settled by April 9. “A decision must be made,” he said. “The longer it takes to come to a resolution the more problems we create for ourselves.”

February 21, 1990

The prospects for a Bay Area NHL team got a bit more convoluted today after news emerged that George and Gordon Gund, owners of the Minnesota North Stars, told the league that they planned to sell the team by March 19 or, failing that, move the North Stars to the Bay Area. This followed news from the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission in Minnesota that they would not fund arena improvements. The price tag for the team was pegged at $50 million which, coincidentally, was the same as the fee the league would charge an expansion franchise.

The NHL had been expected to announce the location of one more expansion sites this month, but the Gunds’ announcement pushed that news off the front burner. Any move would have to be approved by the league and the owners were to vote on the matter during meetings on March 19 and 20.

Minneapolis Star Tribune

February 2, 1990

While waiting for the next NHL board meeting, scheduled for February 22, to find out if San Jose would get an expansion franchise, another possibility that had been lurking in the shadows came to the fore again. The Gund brothers, owners of the Minnesota North Stars, had once been part owners of the California Seals and had periodically voiced interest in moving the North Stars to the Bay Area. The board of the Oakland Coliseum declared themselves ready to receive them if the league approved the move.

George Vukasin, president of the board said, “We have the facility here. If they wanted to be here next week, they could be here next week. We’d be happy to have them.” He emphasized, though, that talks were very much in early stages.

Meanwhile back in Bloomington, Minnesota, a representative of the arena where the North Stars currently played said, “The impression I get from various people around here is that it’s a done deal. The North Stars are moving to California.” But this may have been a negotiating ploy around the team’s effort to get the arena to kick in for some expensive upgrades to the facility and George Gund said he wanted to keep the team in Minnesota.

Howard Baldwin, the businessman and former hockey magnate who was in line to get a potential San Jose franchise said of the development, “I have to be a realist, don’t I? It doesn’t make it any easier for what we’re trying to do in San Jose. We still intend to move forward with our application. We think San Jose is a damned good market.” He added that he didn’t think the Oakland Coliseum aligned particularly well with the NHL’s facilities requirements.

San Francisco Chronicle

December 9, 1989

The NHL Board of Governors emerged from their winter meetings and announced they would add seven teams over the next ten years, with the first coming in the 1992-93 season. No cities were announced but the expansion fee for each new team would be at least $50 million. The league would put out further details at a meeting in February.

San Francisco Examiner

December 8, 1989

The city of San Jose announced they had chosen a group headed by movie producer and former Hartford Whalers executive Howard Baldwin to own an NHL team if the city gets one. Baldwin and his business partner, rental car mogul Morris Belzburg, beat out 49ers-owner Eddie DeBartolo’s group for the honor. DeBartolo had NHL experience, too, but his family’s ownership of the Pittsburgh Penguins was likely the reason his bid wasn’t given more weight.

“We’re thrilled and excited about being selected,” said Baldwin. “We feel the city made the right decision and we feel we made the right decision in selecting San Jose.” He had been considering San Francisco, too, in the early part of the process.

Terms of the agreement, including share of ticket prices, concessions, and other factors regarding the city-owned arena were still to be negotiated. One item that had been settled was that the team would use the name “San Jose” rather than a regional name or the name of another city in the area.

San Jose Mercury News