Skipjacks owner talking with Maine, report says Ebright may move club to Portland

March 16, 1993|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Staff Writer

Skipjacks owner Tom Ebright told the Portland (Maine) Press Herald Sunday night he is negotiating with officials there about moving his American Hockey League team to that port city.

If negotiations are successful, the Skipjacks would play in the 6,726-seat Cumberland County Civic Center next season.

Ebright was unavailable for comment yesterday. He was scheduled to fly to Detroit and then to Portland, Ore., on business for Quest Advisory, a New York investment firm of which he is vice president.

It was during Sunday's game with Providence that Ebright told reporters he planned to move the Skipjacks to one of three possible sites -- Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Syracuse, N.Y., or Portland, Maine -- and bring an East Coast Hockey League team to Baltimore.

Ebright's wife, Joyce, said yesterday negotiations to relocate the Skipjacks were "85 percent" complete, but she declined to confirm with whom the negotiations were being conducted.

She said, however, that negotiations included more support from the business community than Ebright has been able to get from Baltimore corporations. "That's what makes the move more attractive at this point," she said.

Washington Capitals general manager David Poile said he was asked by Ebright Sunday night if he wanted to continue their affiliation next season in another city. "I have not responded to him," Poile said. "I want to take a little time to explore what our options are."

The Skipjacks have been affiliated with the Capitals for the past five seasons and announced on Feb. 19 they had agreed to terms for a sixth season. But the agreement was never officially signed.

Baltimore's options appear to be the East Coast Hockey League or bust. The ECHL is planning to expand from 15 to 18 teams next season. It is adding franchises in Columbia, S.C., and Charlotte, N.C., next season. The cost of an expansion franchise is $500,000.

Ebright, who estimates he loses $400,000 annually operating the Skipjacks in Baltimore, has said the reduced cost of running an ECHL team here would make it a viable situation.

"It's the losses here we want to do away with," Joyce Ebright said. "For the losses we undertake this year, we could almost half pay off the East Coast League team. It makes sense to buy an East Coast League team."

Meanwhile, City Councilman Joseph J. DiBlasi, D-6th, said he still xTC plans to propose a resolution that will pledge $150,000 to Ebright to keep a hockey team in Baltimore. Originally scheduled for yesterday, the City Council meeting was postponed until next Monday because of weather conditions.

"I'm not going to withdraw the resolution or my plan unless he personally asks me to do that," DiBlasi said. "I'm not looking at this in terms of who the owner is, but the fact we have a minor-league franchise and that franchise has asked for help."

Skipjacks ticket policy

The Skipjacks have announced that fans can redeem their unused tickets from last weekend's Saturday and Sunday games for any of the remaining five regular-season home games.

Tickets can only be redeemed at the Baltimore Arena box office. The redemption policy also is in effect for the Feb. 21 game against Halifax and the Feb. 27 game against Springfield.

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