SBD/22/Franchises

CHARLOTTE INVESTORS WANT HIGHER LEVEL HOCKEY AT COLISEUM

     ECHL Charlotte Checkers Owner Felix Sabates and Managing
General Partner Carl Scheer said that they are interested in
owning an NHL, IHL or AHL team that would play hockey in the
Charlotte Coliseum.  The Checkers average 7,900 fans per game
playing in Independence Arena, second highest in the
developmental ECHL.  Sabates and Scheer think hockey at a higher
level would fill even more seats.  Scheer: "Our intention is to
play hockey in Charlotte this year, next year and 10 years from
now. ... If the Charlotte Coliseum is for sale we'd like to be in
the discussions."  Sabates and Scheer say "numerous recent
inquiries" to purchase the coliseum from the city "forced their
hand."  The city's coliseum authority and the Hornets are
negotiating a new lease that could bring improvements for the
facility -- including an ice surface.  According to Scheer, he's
had "several recent conversations" with NHL Commissioner Gary
Bettman about putting a team in Charlotte.  But Sabates also
"seemed enthused" about landing an IHL or AHL team for the
Coliseum, predicting the team could draw 15,000-18,000 fans per
game:  "We'll approach it from a business sense.  An IHL or AHL
team may draw as many fans as an NHL team, but with lower ticket
prices" (Cliff Mehrtens, CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 2/22).
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