Friday, January 22, 2010

Report: Rats franchise likely to be sold

According to a published report, the Albany River Rats franchise will likely be sold and moved to North Carolina.
In its fourth season as the primary affiliate of Carolina, the Albany River Rats’ American Hockey League franchise will likely be sold and moved to Charlotte, N.C., the Raleigh News and Observer said in story published on Friday. "It appears the franchise will be sold and moved to Charlotte," the newspaper reported. River Rats owner Walter Robb has been trying to sell the franchise, which is in its 17th year in Albany, but no deal has been finalized, according to team president and CEO Garen Szablewski. "It may be, but I can’t tell you for sure if it’s going to be true for probably another four, six or eight weeks weeks — something like that," Szablewski said on Friday. "I think it’s a little premature and maybe the headline is a little strong in their story." Robb was unavailable for comment as he was out of town traveling. The Rats owner has expressed interest in selling the franchise — with the stipulation that the buyer keeps the franchise in Albany. In addition, Hurricanes management wouldn’t confirm or deny the report of the sale of the franchise and the potential move to Carolina. Yet Hurricanes’ management "has expressed a desire to have an AHL team close to Raleigh and in North Carolina, if possible," the Raleigh News and Observer reported. Szablewski stressed selling the Rats franchise is only one of options Robb has been exploring. "This is not a done deal," Szablewski reiterated on Friday. Bob Belber, general manager of the Times Union Center, also said no deal of a sale has been made. "We are committed to keeping AHL hockey in Albany," Belber said in a statement. "We have not received a notice of such a deal being finalized. The TU Center is in communication with Dave Andrews, commissioner of the AHL and we will use all efforts to either keep the River Rats in Albany and/or bring another team to Albany with perhaps another NHL affiliation with a different team home-based in the Northeast."


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