CHARLOTTE CHECKERS HESITANT TO MOVE TO AHL
Despite offers to join the AHL, the Charlotte Checkers will
reportedly stay in the East Coast Hockey League, according to
this morning's CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. Checkers Owner Felix Sabatas
and team President Carl Scheer met with ECHL officials Monday and
afterward said they were "ambivalent" about moving up to the AHL.
The AHL is recruiting a number of ECHL franchises in an attempt
to form a Southern Division. Scheer said there was "very little
interest" from other ECHL teams about a move, as the added cost
estimate of at least $500,000 per year would make it difficult.
The IHL has "informed Checkers management it wants to either
absorb the franchise or move an expansion team to Charlotte to
compete with the Checkers." That could force Scheer to move from
Independence Arena (about 9,500 capacity) to the Coliseum
(23,000) to "head off another minor-league team looking for a
home." Scheer: "We're trying to find a way to protect our
market. ... The AHL is not an automatic slam-dunk, like moving
from the ABA to the NBA. There are four Canadian (AHL)
franchises in trouble" (Rick Bonnell, CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 3/21).