Federal Hockey League decides not to add North Adams franchise


The Federal Hockey League has decided not to add the Berkshire Black Bears.

The league's owners held a conference call Wednesday and, by a 4-0 vote (with one owner absent), denied the North Adams franchise's application to join as an expansion team, according to FHL Commissioner Don Kirnan.

The sticking points for the owners, according to Kirnan, were the financial stability of the franchise and the size of the Black Bears' home rink, the Peter W. Foote Vietnam Veterans Memorial Skating Rink.

"Basically, it's approximately a $400,000 to $500,000 budget [for teams]," Kirnan said Wednesday. "Generally speaking, we like to see reserves in the 25 percent range, in the event that there's a shortfall. It just wasn't available. We asked if there were potential partners, and there [weren't] any."

Black Bears President Phil DeFranco, when reached by phone Wednesday, declined comment, saying he had not yet been officially notified by the league of its decision.

DeFranco has previously told The Eagle that the Black Bears would likely go on a one-year hiatus if the FHL decided not to add them to the league. The North Atlantic Professional Hockey League, which the Black Bears were to originally join, announced Saturday that it will delay its inaugural season until 2015. DeFranco told The Eagle on Tuesday that the Black Bears would "probably" return to the NAPHL for 2015 if the FHL turned them down for membership.

Had North Adams been admitted to the FHL, it would have had the smallest arena in the league. The smallest arena, the Watertown Municipal Arena in Watertown, N.Y., has a listed capacity of 2,000 people, according to the FHL website. The Vietnam Veterans Rink seats a little more than half that number.

Kirnan said the FHL has been interested in expanding to North Adams on a number of occasions, even with the rink size. He also added that the league would not rule out an expansion including North Adams in the future.

"We just need to bring in some additional partners that would ensure the facility and ownership group are solid enough to maintain a team in the league," Kirnan said. "We didn't see that yesterday, and we don't see that going forward with the present ownership group."

To reach Matthew Sprague:
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On Twitter: @BE_MSprague.


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