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NAHL in, IHL out in Flint?

Flint GeneralsA group wants to bring an NAHL team to Flint’s Perani Arena, but the IHL, which has stepped in to finance the franchise, says it won’t give up the market without a fight.

There’s a long tradition of pro hockey in Flint; the Generals and its predecessors have been around for 40 years. But that could change if the junior NAHL circuit ends up with a Perani Arena lease after a years of financial tumult that saw the facility go into bankruptcy and the team floated by the league.

Firland Management, which now runs the arena, says it has a lease agreement with a local group that bought the NAHL’s Marquette Rangers with the express intent of moving the team to Flint. Not so fast, says the IHL; the old lease between the team and the arena — signed when Dr. Khaled M. Shukairy owned the arena and a chunk of the team — isn’t valid anymore.

IHL Commissioner Dennis Hextall says he’s got some local businesspeople interested in running the team. Still, if there’s no valid lease for Perani Arena, there’s little chance for the team to succeed.

It’s been a rough year for the Generals: the team was behind on many payments, including rent and payroll; the league stepped in and infused capital into the franchise.

The loss of Flint will also be a big blow to the future of the IHL. The league is now at seven teams, but Muskegon is shifting to the USHL next season, leaving the circuit at five.

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