The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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Chiefs

February 16, 2010

Fans looking for ways to hold onto Chiefs

JOHNSTOWN — The Johnstown Chiefs’ announcement that the team plans to move to Greenville, S.C., unless a local buyer can be found has generated some interest in keeping the team in town.

Unfortunately for local fans, none of it appears to be enough to save the ECHL’s only remaining original franchise.

“I had two people inquire about it right away, but as soon as I gave them the reality of the situation I haven’t heard back,” said Neil Smith, the team’s primary owner and interim coach.

“There hasn’t been anybody that’s serious.”

The fact that the Chiefs have already announced the move

– and that Greenville’s arena board already has a plan in place for a five-year deal with team – makes the likelihood of a last-minute deal to keep the franchise in Johnstown even more unlikely.

“It would have to be done really quickly,” Smith said of a potential sale. “From a logistics standpoint, the only way they could do it is to ask for an expansion franchise from the league. The Greenville team wouldn’t be the Johnstown franchise, it would be a new member.”

Chiefs fans have started a grassroots campaign to save the team. A “Keep the Chiefs in Johnstown” Facebook group - http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=333767620241&ref;=nf – had almost 2,000 members by Tuesday evening

– less than 48 hours after the announcement.

The idea, as stated by group creator Steve Lucas, is to find a large number of small investors to purchase the team.

“The Chiefs ownership group could reach out to the people of Johnstown and propose an ownership scenario similar to the Green Bay Packers,” Lucas says on the group's Facebook page. “The town of Green Bay owns the Packers. Every resident donated $25 for one share of the team and a board of directors is elected to run the team. With Johnstown’s 20,000 residents, a $50 donation/person would raise $1,000,000. The greater Johnstown metropolitan area’s residents could raise $7,000,000 with that same donation. I’m sure some people would be willing to donate more than just $50 as well.”

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