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Sun., Oct. 4
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Investors want a hockey team for Watertown community


WATERTOWN — Stanley H. Tibbles wants to put a professional hockey team on ice that the community will embrace as its own.

Mr. Tibbles and a group of local investors are negotiating with the Federal Hockey League for a team to play at the Watertown Municipal Arena. They may replace the Watertown Privateers with a new team and a new name. Or they could end up bringing the financially struggling Privateers back for a third season with new ownership.

“We definitely want to make it the community’s team,” Mr. Tibbles said Wednesday. “We want it to be Watertown’s. We want to make the community proud.”

The investors include Mr. Tibbles, who owns a local roofing company; funeral home owner Cullen D. Lundy; Mark Webb of Brownville; Dr. Michael Wainberg, an orthopedic surgeon; Mr. and Mrs. Ronald London of Copenhagen; and local dentist Dr. Vincent Casario Jr. and his wife.

Regardless of whether the Privateers return or it’s a new team, the investors intend to operate a team that’s financially healthy, Mr. Tibbles said. The prospective new owners want to distance themselves from the fiscal problems that plagued the Privateers since they moved from Alexandria Bay two years ago.

“We don’t want to make money on it,” Mr. Tibbles said. “We want the team to be healthy. We want to make this a long-term thing.”

On Tuesday, city officials announced that the group was the only one with which the city would negotiate a contract next season at the ice rink at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.

Erin E. Gardner, superintendent of parks and recreation, said she was notified by Privateers owner and Federal Hockey League commissioner Don Kirnan that Mr. Kirnan opted not to submit a bid for a franchise agreement with the city because of the investor group’s interest.

The investors should know within about a week whether they will take over the Privateers or form a new franchise with the hockey league, Mr. Tibbles said. The local investors previously had negotiated to buy the Privateers.

“I really don’t know which way they will go,” Mr. Kirnan said.

The team will have a new name, however. The group also must decide whether to bring back any of the Privateers staff next season. About a dozen players from last season are signed to play solely with the Privateers and not with another Federal Hockey League team, he said.

League officials have told the investors that five teams are committed to play in the league next season, with a sixth team about 90 percent certain it will be with the league, Mr. Tibbles said.

Mr. Kirnan said the league could end up having eight teams.

The investors filed paperwork with the state Department of State to form a company called Top Shelf Hockey LLC. Mr. Tibbles and Dr. Wainberg would be the team’s managers, according to a submission to the city this week.

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