Another hurdle in the proposed sale of the Bandits to Cincinnati interests was cleared yesterday when majority owner, president and chief operating officer Mike Caggiano convinced shareholders that selling the team is the only option.
Earlier in the day, a suit was brought against Caggiano and Bandits Hockey Inc. by 7 percent owner Jan Loeb. It sought a temporary restraining order/prejudgment injunction to prevent the sale of the team, but was denied in Baltimore City Circuit Court just before the shareholders' meeting.
"I'm glad, in a way, the suit was filed because it gave us a chance to talk out any misgivings anybody might have had about what we're doing," Caggiano said. "I think everybody is convinced our creditors will be treated in a fair and equitable manner. Obviously, the discussions helped because everyone there voted for the sale."
Reportedly, the deal with Cincinnati Gardens owner Jerry Robinson, which has been talked about for more than a month, would be for about $2 million, the going price for an American Hockey League franchise.
Debts and obligations of the team stand at a figure considerably more than that. A Feb. 28 balance sheet showed a negative net worth of $2,435,880 and unpaid accounts payable of $625,472.
Caggiano, in a status-of-the-franchise report delivered before the meeting, said:
"The company was in terrible shape as a result of mismanagement by the previous owners. Although the company had only been open six months, the team was $1.6 million in debt and owed Anaheim, the NHL team providing player talent for the Bandits, another $500,000. Disney [Anaheim] was ready to pull all of their players out in mid-March."
Caggiano said he made an immediate payment of $250,000 to Anaheim to smooth things over and arranged for a line of credit of $1.2 million, which he personally guaranteed.
Other problems besides debt included several corporate sponsors' pulling support and the season-ticket base for the current season falling to 600.
Caggiano's failed attempt to get a $45 million arena built in Baltimore County also proved costly, as did the fact that the team's average attendance hovers around 3,000 this year, a drop of 600 from the Bandits' inaugural season, 1995-96.
Arena dates available
The Bandits, who originally thought they would have to seek another venue for their home games in an expected first-round AHL playoff series with Philadelphia, will be host to the Phantoms at Baltimore Arena on April 23 and April 25 (if necessary).
"It's my fault. I misunderstood [Arena general manager] Donna Julian when we spoke about dates," Caggiano said. "I thought we couldn't get an early commitment for one of those weekend days [April 25-26]. That's why I got in touch with Hershey. I was wrong."
Pub Date: 4/03/97