Local News

Hockey Stoppage Could Silence Pucks, Bucks For RBC Center

Posted September 14, 2004 9:09 a.m. EDT

— The two sides in the NHL labor negotiations are so far apart many say a potential work stoppage is a done deal, which could mean a big headache for the Carolina Hurricanes and the public authority that runs the taxpayer-funded RBC Center.

The Canes pay the Centennial Authority, the public body that runs the arena $2.7 million a year in rent. The team has a strike fund and Authority officials said taxpayers are covered.

"They are fully capable and we're fully expecting the rent and I don't have a doubt in my mind that that rent will come," said Perry Safran, of the Centennial Authority.

The rent may be paid, but some officials are concerned about the money from the naming rights deal.

"The naming rights in the event of a work stoppage would decline. N.C. State would still receive their guaranteed payment, but the Arena Authority and the Hurricanes would not receive some portion of the naming rights' money," said Bill Mullens, of the Centennial Authority.

The naming rights deal equates to $650,000 a year each to the Canes and the Arena Authority -- money that will not come in if the players are locked out.

The Hurricanes told off-ice employees their jobs are secure through January, but after that, there is thin ice.

"If we get to a point where we see the worst-case scenario happening, if the whole season's cancelled, then we'll have to start laying people off," Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford said.

"I think right now, we're all kind of in agreement that best-case scenario, we'll be able to save maybe half the season," said Hurricanes LW Erik Cole. "It just seems that the owners are poised to trigger a lockout in order to get the new collective bargaining agreement that they want."

The Hurricanes held an informal practice Monday in Raleigh. Training camp is supposed to start Saturday, but there may be no need. If players and owners cannot come to an agreement by midnight Wednesday, the season will not start on time.