Thursday, September 19, 2002

Dayton still waiting for ECHL team

The Associated Press

        DAYTON, Ohio — Three weeks before the start of the East Coast Hockey League's season, the city still is waiting to see if it gets a team.

        There has been no team in Dayton since the league took the Bombers franchise away from owner John Gagnon early this month. That left the ECHL with two teams in Ohio — the Cincinnati Cyclones and the Toledo Storm.

        A new group of investors applied for a franchise in Dayton last Friday. The league is expected to approve the application once a few remaining issues are resolved.

        The Bombers play at Wright State's Nutter Center. The arena needs a tenant and has agreed to restructure its lease.

        Provident Bank loaned most of the money for the $1.5 million ice surface at the Nutter Center and expects the ECHL to approve a franchise.

        “I'd say it's 75-25 it will go through,” Provident spokesman Dave Melin said. “The two sides have come too far. All the business issues have been agreed to. The big issues have been worked out.”

        Those issues included outstanding debts from Gagnon's team, including player bonuses, league fees and NHL affiliation contracts with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

        Gagnon owned the Bombers for four of the team's 11 seasons. He said he ran out of money and had been trying to sell the team since last spring.


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