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Raleigh Hockey Dreams Refuse to Die

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RALEIGH — The owner of the Hartford Whalers hockey teamvisited the Triangle Wednesday to meet with the Centennial Authority andtour the site of Raleigh's much-debated arena. Peter Karmanos, owner ofthe currently homeless Whalers, said Raleigh is a serious contender as ahome base for his team.

A proposal being discussed would have the team playing for two years atthe Greensboro Coliseum, then moving to Raleigh for the 1999 season. Theonly problem is,Raleigh and Wake County officials have yet to come to an agreement onfunding the proposed arena.

Karmanos visited Capitol Broadcasting to discuss a possible futuretelevision deal. The team has lost $90 million in the last three years inHartford, and needs television revenue to survive as a team.

But Karmanos said the team also needs a home city and a place to play,and he's heard about the new arena that may be built here.

While local government leaders are still debating the arena deal,Karmanos said he's confident it will all work out. He got an aerial viewof the arena site in WRAL-TV5's Sky-5 helicopter, and said he like what hesaw.

Raleigh is not the only stop on Karmanos' tour. He visited ColumbusTuesday and plans to visit Las Vegas later this week. Next week he hasstops scheduled in Minneapolis-St. Paul, San Diego, Kansas City andCincinnati. He said he also wants to take a look at Greensboro as apossible interim site

There are hockey ties between Hartford and Raleigh. The Raleigh IceCaps were affiliated with the Hartford Whalers during their first fewseasons. In fact, Karmanos' son Jason played for the Ice Caps for 16 gamesthis season.

Karmanos said he will make a decision by May 10. He has told a Columbustelevision station that that city is his first choice at this time.

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