A new face in the den: Austin Papa Murphy’s owner buys minority stake in Bruins

Published 10:08 am Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Austin Bruins owner Craig Patrick stands with Papa Murphy's owner Mike Coope who was just named minority owner of the team Tuesday. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Austin Bruins owner Craig Patrick stands with Papa Murphy’s owner Mike Cooper, who was announced as minority owner of the team Tuesday. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

No more rumors. The Austin Bruins have added an owner.

Owner Craig Patrick announced Tuesday that Austin businessman and resident Mike Cooper has bought a minority stake in the club in a deal finalized two weeks ago when the NAHL general board unanimously voted to accept the agreement.

“Mike and I have been friends for awhile,” Patrick said. “It’s nice to have someone vested in the team that lives here.”

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Cooper, the owner of Austin’s Papa Murphy’s and eight other stores in Minnesota and Iowa, said he and Patrick, who lives in Wisconsin, started discussing the deal about two years ago, but the pair wanted to keep the process secret until it was finalized.

“We actually talked about this two years ago and just kicked the idea around,” Cooper said. “The timing was right.”

During that time, several rumors swirled around the team, ranging from Patrick selling the team outright to the team moving — rumors Patrick flatly denied.

“The team’s not for sale, and it was never in any danger of leaving,” Patrick said. “We wanted to keep this confidential until our deal was done.”

The addition of Cooper helps further stabilize a team that’s already firmly entrenched in Austin through community outreach and involvement.

“For the Bruins, this is season five,” Cooper said. “For long-term stability, it needed someone local and invested to help with some of the business end.”

The team, both Patrick and Cooper said, reflects the stability of other teams the Bruins face regularly like Minot and Bismarck, N.D. Patrick said he wanted to foster that kind of a situation in Austin that has readily accepted the team.

“For the Bruins, this is the right community,” Patrick said.

Patrick and Cooper declined to discuss terms of the deal, but said the process right down to the unanimous vote by the NAHL board was smooth.

“It was really a smooth, good process,” Cooper said. “[Craig] and I get along well and it was easy to do.”

Both men are excited as the Bruins, the NAHL’s Robertson Cup runners-up last season and defending NAHL Central Division champs, gear up for the 2014-15 season. A new batch of strong talent is coming in as well as head coach Chris Tok and assistant coach Jamie Huffman are returning.

“I think we’re excited about the upcoming season,” Cooper said. “We have some positive changes to our game nights and we’re looking forward to working with our sponsor partners because we really appreciate their support.”