Mayor Jack Ford, left, and Toledo Storm statistician Ray King chat with former Storm owner Barry Soskin in the parking lot of the Sports Arena about how to save the franchise.
Barry Soskin, the founder of the Toledo Storm hockey club, said yesterday in the parking lot of the Toledo Sports Arena that he is ready to make a deal with current team owner Tim Gladieux.
In the evolving saga of the Toledo Storm - if the team will play next year and who will own them - Mr. Soskin said he is willing to pay the price Mr. Gladieux asked for the team last week if he could implement a plan he believes would make the team and the arena where they play profitable.
"If Barry's got a proposal, we're willing to listen," Mr. Gladieux said last night before the Storm game.
Mr. Soskin and Mr. Gladieux declined to talk about the sales price.
Mr. Soskin would not elaborate on his plan except to say he would want a long-term lease for the team and some control of the arena itself.
Surrounded by Storm fans wearing white "Save Our Storm" T-shirts as well as Mayor Jack Ford and Toledo Councilman Frank Szollosi, Mr. Soskin said he would be a hands-on owner, finding players who would take advantage of the arena's smaller rink and play an exciting brand of hockey.
He said he was in town to meet fans and attend the Storm's game against Trenton last night.
Mr. Ford asked Mr. Soskin about his plans and offered help, but Mr. Ford also said he's waiting to see a feasibility study for a possible new arena being conducted on behalf of Pizzuti Cos., of Columbus, developers of the proposed East Toledo Marina District, due May 1.
The study will compare Toledo with similar-sized cities and determine the number of events that it will have to be scheduled each year to support construction and operation of a new arena.
A Chicago businessman, Mr. Soskin sold the team to Mr. Gladieux and a group of investors in 1998 for more than $2 million. The men met last week for 2 1/2 hours to discuss the potential sale of the East Coast Hockey League team and possibly the Sports Arena.
Mr. Gladieux said the figure he gave Mr. Soskin was a figure he has given others who have shown interest in the Storm. He said any deal would have to be approved by the ECHL.
Other possibilities have been talked about, including turning over control of the team to the Toledo Mud Hens' board of directors, the nonprofit organization that runs the Triple-A minor league baseball team.
"This isn't Barry Soskin's team," Mr. Soskin said. "This is Toledo's team. Whatever is done, it's got to be what is best for Toledo. I won't put myself in a position where I will go belly-up."
The Storm announced earlier that it had requested permission from the ECHL's board of governors to suspend operations next season, citing financial losses.
Mike Miller, vice president and general manager of the Storm, said that by all counts, except for attendance, the Storm has had a successful season. He said his job has been keeping the team and staff focused on the playoffs.
Robin Gardner, 34, who's been following the Storm for three years, said she does not want to get priced out of the market for corporations and big businesses by a new arena.
"I'm a single mother of two children, and I hope you don't forget about the little people," Ms. Gardner told Mr. Soskin and Mr. Ford. "Storm games are something I can take my kids to, and we've enjoyed it. We can't afford to go to Fifth Third Field."
Contact Clyde Hughes at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6095.
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