Monday, March 01, 2010

Sources:Pirates Have a "Deal in Principle" W/ Times Union Center in Albany

According to sources with first-hand knowledge of the situation, an agreement in principle between the Portland Pirates and the Times Union Center in Albany has been reached. The source, who requested anonymity do the sensitive nature of negotiations, stated "if the i's are dotted and the t's get crossed", a formal announcement could be made by the end of this week or next.

An source in Portland, familiar with the negotiations, states they have information from within the Pirates organization "saying the same thing. In all honesty, it's more than obvious." The source also states Portland shouldn't have much to fear as "there are teams lined up to take The Pirates place."

The Portland Pirates, who brought AHL Hockey back to Portland in the 1993-94 season after the Maine Mariners left town to become the Providence Bruins, have been in negotiations with Cumberland County officials about extending the lease to the building, but have been unable to reach an agreement due to the fact Pirates officials want renovations done to the building, and the county does not want to pay for the improvements. They also know "the public will go berserk" if they try to raise the money for improvements in this economic environment.

The Buffalo Sabres, who are the Pirates parent franchise, would agree to the move and have "supported it", due to the fact Albany is considered (for TV purposes) a Sabres market. They envision a scenario "similar to what the Bruins have with Providence, especially in terms of player movement."

Although there is a possibility a deal has been reached with Albany to "force the hand of Cumberland County officials", in all likelihood once an announcement has been reached it will signify the end of another AHL-era in Maine. The Adirondack Phantoms, rumored to be a potential replacement, will be moving to an Allentown, PA arena at some point (although the shovel hasn't hit the ground in building it yet). The Lowell Devils are currently negotiating another deal for Tsongas Arena, and there are whispers they would look to move to Portland if the Pirates go to Albany. Lowell's lease with the Tsongas Arena expires at the end of this season.

A "Save our Pirates" rally in Portland last week drew a handful of fans to protest a move to Albany. A Facebook page of the same name currently has over 1600 fans.



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