Negotiations on a lease that would bring an East Coast Hockey League team to the Baltimore Arena next season remained snagged yesterday.
John Haas, a local businessman representing would-be ECHL owner Ed Anderson, met for 90 minutes with officials from Centre Management, but was unable to close the gap on the issue of rent.
"We're at an impasse at this time," Haas said. "Unless the terms of [Centre Management's] proposal are modified, then it appears the chances of a hockey team are dwindling."
Anderson, who owns the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League, has said he would accept the same contract that applied to the Skipjacks under owner Tom Ebright this season.
But Haas said an April 13 proposal from Gary Handleman, vice president of facilities for Centre Management, "represents a considerable increase over the existing contract.
"We can't afford the increase they want," Haas said. "It's just not in the cards."
Handleman described yesterday's meeting as amicable. Sitting in with Handleman were Barry Silberman, president of Centre Management, and Pat Darr, vice president for bookings and promotions.
The Baltimore group must have a lease agreement in place to apply for an expansion franchise in the ECHL next week when the league holds its annual meetings.
"I think we understand each other's point of view," Handleman said. "He [Haas] is going to take a look at some information we've given them, and then get back to us."
Haas, a member of the Baltimore Hockey Advocates and a former Skipjacks president, has been seeking the assistance of Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke in the process, but Schmoke has declined to become involved in negotiations.
"The next step is, is there somebody in the city government who wants to step forward and say, 'Let's have a hockey team here?' " Haas said.
Ebright is moving the Skipjacks to Portland, Maine, next season.