Stars sale takes big step forward

The sale of the Dallas Stars is ready to take the next big step forward. A source said the process is expected to move into bankruptcy court in Delaware within the next two weeks. The expected date for the filing right now is September 14.

The Stars declined to comment on Friday.

Vancouver businessman Tom Gaglardi has been working for more than a year on finalizing a purchase agreement for the Stars, which includes the club and half interest in the American Airlines Center. That agreement is said to be in the final stages of officially being finalized.

Although Gaglardi would have a signed purchase agreement it doesn’t mean he is guaranteed to be the club’s new owner. His offer would be what is considered a stalking horse bid. Other potential bidders will be given a chance to top it in the bankruptcy proceedings.

Among the bidders who could be in the mix:

*Irving businessman Billy Quinn, who is the Managing Partner of Natural Gas Parnters

*Allen Americans owner Doug Miller

*Former Texas Rangers CEO Chuck Greenberg

Although the case is expected to move into the courts this month, it could be a couple of months at least before the sale is finalized and a new owner is in place. It will depend on the competing bids.

Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk said on a Calgary radio station Thursday that he has been told by the league that the sale should be completed before Christmas. The sale also would have to be approved by the league, which is not expected to be a problem.

Tom Hicks, who bought the club for $84 million in 1995, announced in February 2010 that he was exploring the sale of the Stars. Hicks defaulted on $525 million in loans in March 2009 and lenders, who assumed the team’s debt, have been funding the team. Forbes valued the Stars at $227 million last fall.