The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Chiefs

February 16, 2010

Fans looking for ways to hold onto Chiefs

(Continued)

JOHNSTOWN —

Lucas, 23 of Windber, is a history major at Pitt-Johnstown and former Chiefs season-ticket holder.

“When I heard Sunday night that they were leaving, I was pretty depressed about it,” he said. “I thought if one person can’t buy the team, why can’t a bunch of people buy the team?”

Kevin James, 37 of the Oakland section of Johnstown, also is gauging interest for a community-ownership group.

James said he has spoken with ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna, who did not return a message left by The Tribune-Democrat, as well as Chiefs General Manager Bill Bredin, but has not had any discussions with Smith about the possibility of buying the team.

Smith said that he previously had suggested a community-based group buy the team but found no takers.

“I actually approached some of the city leaders last year about doing that, about making a group that would be community-owned, but that idea didn’t really catch on,” Smith said.

“They looked at it, and thought they could handle the losses, but they couldn’t get the purchase price. I would have to be basically be giving it to them, and why would I do that?”

Smith wouldn’t say what his asking price is, but it is believed to be more than $500,000. The ECHL requires a letter of credit for $250,000 from an owner to cover any expenses, meaning that the initial investment would be closer to $750,000.

Smith has said that the team has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars since he bought the Chiefs in 2002.

Smith also said that a community ownership group wouldn’t be able to keep the team here for the 2010-11 season.

“You’d never to be able to get it done in time to play in the league next year,” he said. “If that’s going to happen, it would have to happen in the next year. I don’t think it’s realistic to happen next year. The only way it’s realistic is to take next year off and get an expansion franchise for the next year.”

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