Spirit says dates open for Bandits' playoffs Hockey team could use Arena on April 23, 25

April 01, 1997|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,SUN STAFF

The Spirit denied Bandits owner Mike Caggiano's claim that he couldn't get confirmed playoff dates for April 23 and 25 because the soccer team "has first consideration."

The Spirit says its only confirmed dates for the National Professional Soccer League playoffs are Saturday and a week from today for its first round series against the Philadelphia Kixx.

"The dates [April 23 and 25] are indeed available for potential playoff dates for both the Spirit and the Bandits," said Baltimore Arena general manager Donna Julian. "In previous years, if there was ever a conflict, the Arena has always accommodated both franchises. "

Spirit owner Bill Stealey and general manager Drew Forrester have often said in recent years that the club is considered the Arena's "prime tenant," particularly since the American Hockey League's Skipjacks left after the 1992-93 season, and thus has had mostly prime Friday and Saturday dates. Forrester said the Spirit has not secured the April 23 and 25 dates, however.

The Spirit's first season in Baltimore was 1992-93. The Bandits arrived for the 1995-96 AHL season.

Noting that no member of the Bandits organization or the American Hockey League has contacted the Spirit concerning potential playoff dates, Forrester said: "This is essentially nothing more than a poorly disguised cover-up. The Spirit has no exclusive rights to April 23 or 25, and as far as we're concerned if those two dates are the only two that the Bandits can use in their first-round series, they're welcome to play on those dates.

"The reality is, however, that they don't want to play their first-round playoff games in Baltimore. Instead of just holding up bTC their hand and saying, 'We made a better deal elsewhere,' they've created this woeful story that portrays the Spirit and the Baltimore Arena as the roadblock."

The Bandits say they may stage their first-round home games in the Calder Cup playoffs against the Philadelphia Phantoms in Hershey, Pa. Caggiano could not be reached for comment.

Pub Date: 4/01/97

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