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NBA OWNERS ON ICE, PART I: ALEXANDER JOINS HOUSTON'S CHASE
Published October 17, 1996
Rockets Owner Leslie Alexander formally submitted an application to bring an NHL expansion franchise to Houston, according to Eddie Sefko of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. The bid sets up a "showdown" between Alexander and IHL Aeros Owner Chuck Watson, who applied for a Houston franchise last month. Sefko writes at the "heart of the race" for a team is controlling interest in a new basketball/hockey arena that likely would be located in downtown "or in the Greenway Plaza area." Sefko: "Both owners have strong connections that could work in their favor in a hockey battle that could develop into an interesting ice show." Alexander's current lease with The Summit runs until 2003 and he has expressed interest in managing the new facility. Watson, however, owns the lease at The Summit, and any new arena "would likely have Watson as an operator of the building in some capacity" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/17). EARLY LINE: The CHRONICLE's Sefko notes Alexander is "close friends" with NBA Commissioner David Stern and that Stern remains a "confidant" of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. Insiders, meanwhile, are "divided" on whether Alexander or Watson have the better chance for the franchise. Sefko cites some unnamed sources who believe the NHL would prefer to have an owner who is already "entrenched" in a city at the major league level. Others feel "a deep-pockets owner like Watson, who may be able to facilitate a new building more readily than Alexander, makes more sense." A third possibility also exists, as Gavin Maloof of Albuquerque, NM has filed an application for a Houston team as well. Sefko notes Maloof's bid is an "extreme long shot" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/17).