Local News

Sabates Pulls Out of Hockey Bid

Posted February 17, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— The word from the horses mouth Monday night was that there will be no National Hockey League team in Raleigh.

Felix Sabates, who put up his own money as an application fee trying to lure a National Hockey League franchise to Raleigh, has now withdrawn his bid. Sabates said Friday that he thought chances were very slim the deal would happen, but that the hockey commissioner had encouraged him to try to work things out in Raleigh.

Monday, Sabates said he was pulling out, and blamed Raleigh Mayor Tom Fetzer as being the single most important stumbling block.

Mayor Fetzer says he's sorry to hear that Sabates views Fetzer as the problem.

Sims Hinds of the Centennial Authority, the body seeking funds to build an arena, told WRAL-TV5'sMark Robertsthat he regrets Sabates' decision to pull out. Another member of the authority who asked not to be identified said he had thought Sabates was bluffing about withdrawing his bid, until Monday.

With the prospect of a professional hockey team gone, officials say this could reopen a debate about the size of the proposed arena. Officials had, after much arguing and controversy, voted to build an arena large enough to accommodate the NHL.