A prospective investor has pulled out of an initiative to bring an ECHL team to Portland, prompting doubts of an entry for the 2017-18 season.
Within a fairly short time frame after the AHL’s Portland Pirates departed for Springfield, MA, Godfrey Wood announced his intention to form a group of investors that would bring an ECHL team to the city by the 2017-18 season. Along with discussing the use of Cross Insurance Arena, Wood has been trying to secure enough interest in purchasing an expansion or existing ECHL franchise.
A key component of that pursuit was an unnamed investor who, in July, was reported to be seriously considering joining the project. The timing and influx of funds would have given Wood and his group some more options, but with the investor ultimately passing on the proposal, questions are arising as to whether Portland will fit into the ECHL’s plans.
The proposition of securing an expansion franchise is becoming increasingly unlikely, as Portland has not submitted an application to the ECHL, which is set to review expansion candidates next month. Another option at that point is to move an existing team to the city, something that both Wood and former Pirates executive Brad Church see as a potential option. More from the Portland Press Herald:
Wood said he remains optimistic that will happen, although the expansion route seems increasingly unlikely. “I think it’s more likely we will try to buy an existing franchise,” he said Tuesday. “We’re in conversations with a number of potential investors. There is nothing definitive yet, but several people are looking hard at the situation.”
Neither Wood nor Church plan to be part of any investment group, although Church hopes to be an executive with the new team.
Wood said four potential investors have expressed interest in being sole or majority owner.
“There are others who have expressed interest in being minority owners,” he said, “depending on who the majority owner is and what the deal looks like.”
Obviously having an ownership group finalized in the near future will be key to Portland, particularly if the intention is still to join the ECHL by the 2017-18 season. Another factor is going to be the lease at Cross Insurance Arena, as the Pirates claimed to have operated in unfavorable conditions over their final seasons in the city.