SBD/Issue 144/Franchises

Dormant AHL Franchise May Soon Enter Spurs' Neighborhood

The Spurs "are negotiating the purchase" of an AHL franchise that will be affiliated with the NHL Panthers, according to sources of Ludden & Scheide of the SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS. The Spurs have "reached an agreement in principle to buy one of three dormant franchises in the league, but still must seek the approval of their board of investors." The Spurs "hope to have the team play in the SBC Center" for the '02-03 season. Ludden & Scheide report that the Spurs and Panthers "would share in the purchase of the AHL franchise," which would become the 28th team in the league. An AHL spokesperson noted an AHL expansion franchise was valued at about $3M before last season. Under the affiliation agreement, the Spurs "would pay a fixed price to the Panthers for providing the players, with the NHL team responsible for paying those salaries." The Spurs would "run the business and marketing operations of the team." Meanwhile, Ludden & Scheide write that the Spurs' AHL negotiations "cloud the future" of the CHL Iguanas, whose lease agreement to play at Freeman Coliseum expired last month. Iguanas Owner Dave Elmore "has not been able to land a new agreement with the Spurs that would keep" the team at Freeman Coliseum. The Spurs also "could not reach an agreement to buy" the Iguanas from Elmore. One source said that the Spurs hoped to purchase the Iguanas for $600,000-800,000 but Elmore "initially placed the team's value at about" $2.5M (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 4/16). A source told THE DAILY this morning the Spurs are in talks to purchase the dormant Louisville Panthers (THE DAILY).

LEAGUEWIDE: In Hartford, Bruce Berlet writes, "Positive vibes fill many of the AHL's nooks and crannies from Newfoundland to Manitoba, but there are still problems. Franchises in Cleveland and Norfolk, Va., are shaky. Ottawa is searching for an affiliation again. Suspect refereeing remains a sore spot even at AHL headquarters, and it was difficult at times to assess the quality of some teams with so many late-season call-ups. Still, most franchises, especially the eight newcomers, are on solid footing, and the consensus is there are more good young players in the league" (HARTFORD COURANT, 4/16).

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