Calgary owner eyes Ravens
By TY PILSON -- Calgary Sun
Calgary Roughnecks majority owner Brad Banister is keeping open the option of buying the embattled Vancouver Ravens franchise.
Former Calgary Flames defenceman Paul Reinhart walked away from the National Lacrosse League Ravens Thursday, saying he was cutting his losses after losing more than $1 million.
It was first reported Reinhart had turned the Ravens over to the league but the NLL denied that in a release yesterday.
In fact, it appears Reinhart wasn't the legal owner of the team, as an earlier deal he made in the summer to buy the franchise hadn't yet been completed.
The team now reverts back to its original owner, SMS Sportworks Entertainment, headed by Tom Mayenknecht.
Mayenknecht brought Reinhart into the group that bought the expansion Ravens last year but the two had an apparent falling out leading to the sale.
The Ravens have struggled on the floor and in attendance, which is considerably down from last season, fuelling the team's money troubles.
There's been talk of approaching Vancouver Canucks owner John McCaw to buy the team. McCaw also owns GM Place, where the Ravens play.
There's also hope Mayenknecht, who was named the NLL's 2002 executive of the year, may turn the team around now that he's back in charge.
Banister, however, is also eyeing up the team.
"I'm flying out there this week to have a look around and see if there is anything I can do," said Banister.
When asked if that included buying the team, he answered: "Yep, yep. I'd need a different group or a group to do it, though."
There is already a precedent in the NLL for multiple-team ownership, with Mike Gongas owning both the Columbus Landsharks and New York Saints and Canadian Brad Watters owning the Toronto Rock, Ottawa Rebel and the Montreal Express, who suspended operations this season.
Banister said he's been named to a committee formed by the league to look into what's wrong in Vancouver.
Also on that committee are Colorado Mammoth GM Steve Govett and Philadelphia Wings owner Russ Cline.
Banister acknowledged he too is still in the red and will lose a fair chunk of cash this year, something to be expected out of a second-year franchise still absorbing start-up costs.
Banister added he doesn't believe the $1-million-plus in losses Reinhart said he has incurred and added he was angry the former NHLer walked away from his club.
"I think we struggle through it here and we manage to get by," said Banister. "So turning your back on your team and walking away is really disappointing.
"I still believe in the team and I wouldn't quit and walk away. Basically, he quit.
"I'm just disgusted with him. I think he let himself and his team down."
NLL commissioner Jim Jennings also voiced displeasure with Reinhart's decision to throw in the towel.
"The league is disappointed in Paul's decision and finds the timing of his decision, on the eve of a nationally televised game with Toronto, most unfortunate," said Jennings in a statement. "When the league approved the Ravens as an expansion franchise, the league believed that Vancouver would be a viable NLL market. We still believe it can be. This season's attendance is obviously down from last year. We have to examine all of the factors that may have caused that decline, including this season's marketing and management efforts to date."