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Canceled Season Takes the Sting Out of Carolina Cobras Scheduled Debut

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RALEIGH — TheCarolina Cobraswill remain coiled for another year, afterArena Football Leagueowners voted late Thursday night to cancel the 2000 season.

League owners say they canceled the season because they were unable to reach a contract agreement with players. A group of players filed an antitrust lawsuit against the league earlier this month, saying it had conspired illegally to limit the players' rights and salaries.

The AFL's sacked summer schedule means Bruce Keil cannot use his Carolina Cobras' season tickets, an anniversary present from his wife.

"I've been going to the Hurricanes games, and that's been real fun, and I was looking -- but what do you when they're gone? And now you got football," Keil says. "I said, 'Great. You know football is going to be a great thing to do while they're on the offseason.'"

The Cobras say the stoppage could not happen at a worse time with the inaugural season just weeks away and a lot of time and money already invested.

The teams say ticket holders can get a refund if the season is indeed finished. "This isn't like just a bargaining ploy by the owners to try to get things going? Absolutely not. -->

The Cobras' cancellation will also take a bite out of theRaleigh Entertainment and Sports Arena'sbottom line.

"Obviously, there's going to be a loss of revenue," says Chris Brown, arena spokesman. "I don't know what the figure is, but you can't really back date it to any reference point because Arena football is new to the Triangle."

The labor-related stoppage could be a fumble the Cobras cannot recover, since people like Keil may not wait until next year.

"I'm hoping they play, and if not, I'm going to have to make a decision probably in the next couple of days about what to do," Keil says. The Carolina Cobras' Dance Team is already up and kicking, though. The Dance Team held auditions last weekend. Since then, the women have started practicing and have several appearances scheduled. -->

The Cobras' first exhibition game at the arena was scheduled for April 6. There would have been seven regular season contests at the arena.