Tuesday, October 08, 2002
What I'm trying to figure out is, can you work the current Ice Bats logo into green and gold ? Austin's move to the American Hockey League in 2004 seems inevitable, but a lot still has to happen, from a successful Cedar Park referendum to an arrangement with the CHL, which has an enforceable franchise agreement with the Bats regardless of who owns 'em. No doubt this story ends with a marquee NHL team getting what it wants, but there should be various negotiations, fantasy scenarios or even potential lawsuits all along the way. There's one tidbit in today's Statesman article which suggests a wild possibility -- no sooner does the ECHL/WCHL merger reduce the CHL to a mostly unaffiliated "A" league than it flips its bigger markets (Austin, OKC, ABQ, IND, Bossier, expansion into KC, who knows where else) into a brand new "AAA" loop. Ridiculous, of course. But it would solve the eternal riddle of the Oklahoma lease. And the Coyotes have been sniffin' round New Mexico (though they could also replace the Stars in SLC).
What's amazing is how teeny-tiny Cedar Park is. Just over 30,000 people -- twice as many as there were five years ago. The Ice Bats' core fan base (2000 people, let's say) could pass or kill this bond issue by themselves, except they don't all live in Cedar Park. If you're interested in a little light reading, check out the memorandum between the city and the Dallas Stars. Although it's not a final, binding contract, it's a great deal for the Stars (in terms of revenue-splitting -- there ain't none!) and leaves little doubt what kind of team is gonna play there:
[The Stars] shall deliver an AHL hockey team, which shall practice, office, and play all regular season and play-off home games at the Facility until the earlier of (i) the end of the Primary Facility Lease or (ii) such time as the City’s general obligation debt, contract revenue debt, and other debt related to the Project have been paid in full. Such hockey team shall be the direct, primary, and formal AHL affiliate of the Dallas Stars. With respect to the AHL hockey team, DSLP shall provide such security provisions as may be acceptable to the City. In any event, such security provisions shall be in form and substance similar to those set forth in the Star Franchise Agreement dated July 28, 1998, between the City of Dallas and DSLP. The AHL hockey team shall commence play in the Facility at the outset of the 2004/2005 regular season. In the event that the above-referenced AHL hockey team does not commence play, interrupts play, or ceases play during any regular season or any post-season during the term of the Primary Facility Lease, DSLP shall pay a substantial monetary penalty(ies) to the City. Such monetary penalty(ies) shall be set forth in the Final Documentation. However, in no event will DSLP be penalized in the event of a league-wide labor dispute.
Ho-hum, the Colorado Eagles. I guess Larimer County's CHL team deserves credit for not upping the the Bush League Factor, but let's face it, we've grown accustomed to a bit more whimsy. Personally, I'm still peeved my San Angelo suggestion, Puckaroos, didn't make the cut -- even though I stole it from Amarillo's naming contest scrap heap. So I'm getting into the Hidalgo sweepstakes early. My nominations: Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros, or Rio Frio.
NHL to IHL to ECHL to CHL is a career trajectory everyone's familiar with, but isn't it usually for players? Al Sims is a great coaching hire who may well put the pride back in the Igloo. That's as bold as I'm gonna get for now, seeing as how I thought the Rays would make the playoffs last year (what can I say, I thought Dale could teach them defense). To quote the former governor of Texas, fool me once blah blah blah... can't get fooled again.
The long-awaited new edition of Tom Schettino's "Ice Pages" is out, with Memphis on the cover... So if Austin player/assistant Jeff Greenlaw hasn't (as of Monday night) signed a player contract, does that mean he takes the ice Tuesday with a jumpsuit and a whistle, or a practice sweater?... The NHL has finally caught up with the minors and jumped into the game-worn sweater business, big-time. Y'know, a couple of years ago, Ryan Anderson's Bats jersey fetched more than Patrick Roy's did at an Avs auction... One guy who's not on Lubbock's roster, or in any other league, is Cosmo DuPaul. If you happen to see Bill McDonald talking on his cell phone, ask him which opposing coach is on the line... And speaking of former C-King all-stars, guess Brandon Carper is looking for a gig.
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