Local News

Raleigh Hockey Dreams Refuse to Die

Posted April 9, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

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

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

Karmanos visited Capitol Broadcasting to discuss a possible future television deal. The team has lost $90 million in the last three years in Hartford, 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 view of the arena site in WRAL-TV5's Sky-5 helicopter, and said he like what he saw.

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

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

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