Arena impasse threatens ECHL bid here HOCKEY

April 28, 1993|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Staff Writer

Negotiations to replace the departing Skipjacks have reached an impasse, placing the future of professional hockey in Baltimore in jeopardy once again.

Whether Baltimore retains hockey next season could come down to three issues: Does Centre Management want hockey in the Baltimore Arena? Will Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke use his political muscle to assist in the effort? And will the Washington Capitals give their blessing to a new team in the area?

Ed Anderson, would-be owner of an East Coast Hockey League team, and Gary Handleman, vice president for facilities at Centre Management, have been unable to reach a lease agreement for the Baltimore Arena in negotiations that began March 30.

Now, time is running out on Anderson and the Baltimore Hockey Advocates, a group of local businessmen trying to keep hockey here.

The ECHL governors convene their annual meeting next Wednesday in the Bahamas, but the league has yet to receive an application from Anderson, who first must negotiate a lease at the Arena, which is operated by Centre Management.

Yesterday, in a bid to close the deal, Anderson said he would accept the same terms and conditions the American Hockey League Skipjacks had this season.

"I told Gary we have until May 3 [Monday] to complete the process," said Anderson, who already owns the Providence Bruins in the AHL. "That's why, when we're miles apart, I felt the easier solution was to accept what they had in place. I will empower John Haas [a member of the advocates] to break the logjam."

Haas, a past president of the Skipjacks, has been attempting to enlist the help of Schmoke, but a spokesman said the mayor would not participate in negotiations.

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