The sale of the Bandits to a consortium of investors from the area is on hold, awaiting approval by the American Hockey League.
"We received a request from current ownership seeking approval for transfer of the franchise and approved it," a spokesman for AHL president Dave Andrews said yesterday. "Our job now is to conduct a background check of the prospective owners and submit a report to the board of governors, which has to approve the deal by a three-fourths margin for it to go through."
Bandits owners Bob Teck and Alan Gertner owe about $500,000 to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, the Bandits' NHL parent club, and also owe the AHL $100,000, the first annual installment of the $1 million franchise fee, according to sources.
Teck said the strain of debt and a lack of revenue due to the team's lack of prime weekend dates forced the partners to make the sale. However, Teck, who has returned full-time to his travel business in New Jersey, emphasized that the perspective owners are committed to keeping the team in Baltimore.
"We had a couple of different offers, but we felt it was very important to keep hockey in Baltimore," said Teck, who did not give any details of the pending sale.
The names of the new owners have not been revealed, but they have assumed control of the team's day-to-day operations.
At least two bona fide offers for the team were on the table late last week and it was apparent one had been approved by Sunday when the leader of a group of local and regional businessmen and investors conducted long meetings with various club personnel.
"One or two of the groups wanted to move the Bandits," Teck said. "The Bandits are not moving. We did what we thought was the responsible thing to do. The new owners are committed to Baltimore as a hockey market."
Teck said the sale will not affect the minority ownership of the team, which includes professional tennis player Pam Shriver. The Bandits' affiliation with the Mighty Ducks also remains intact.
"We have an agreement with Baltimore, and we are going to live up to our agreement to the fullest," a Ducks spokesman said yesterday.
The Bandits had scheduled a news conference for 2 p.m. today to announce the sale of the team, but that has been postponed indefinitely -- awaiting the AHL's approval of the sale.
Teck blamed the Bandits' home schedule for his problems. The Bandits did not have a Saturday home game on this season's schedule, and only 20 of their 40 home games were scheduled for Fridays or Sundays. As a longtime tenant of the Arena, the Spirit has the right of first refusal to weekend dates.
"We had over 20 weekday games," Teck said. "You give me 30 weekend dates and I'm not even thinking about selling this team. The problem wasn't Baltimore, it was the schedule. Anaheim still very much likes this market."
Andrews, the AHL commissioner, also said the lack of prime home dates was a problem.
"With a market like Baltimore and an affiliation like Anaheim, I would have been foolish to stop them from coming in," Andrews said. "I would still make the same decision today. But I don't know if any team could be successful with that schedule."