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City investors ‘seriously’ court Flint franchise

By BLAKE SEBR1NG Of The News-Sentinel

The president and largest stockholder of the Flint Spirits said negotiations are continuing in an effort to bring the International Hockey League franchise to Fort Wayne, and an announcement could be made by the end of the week.

Dr. Harold Mallon said last night from his home in Grand Blanc, Mich., that a group of Fort Wayne investors'contacted him in Vancouver, British Columbia, over the weekend and that he considers it a serious effort to buv the Flint franchise.

Former Komets owner David Welker and IHL Commissioner N. Thomas Berry introduced the group to Mallon.

I assume it’s a serious offer, unless someone is blowing smoke," Mallon said. “Any announcement will come from Fort Wayne and Indianapolis. I'm not going to pre-empt their decision.”

Berry was unavailable for comment last night. The IHL offices in Indianapolis will be clowd until tomorrow.

The IHL Board of Governors gave Welker permission Friday to move the Komets to Albany, N.Y., ending the team’s

39-year run in Fort Wayne. Welker has said that if a new franchise can be started in Fort Wayne he will allow the players and the Komets name to remain.

The Flint franchise posted a $50,000 letter of credit at the IHL meetings last week in Vancouver, in effect filing an intention to participate in the league next season. Mallon said the sale of the franchise depends on the deal the prospective owner can make with Memorial Coliseum.

"If the arena makes it attractive enough, there will probably be more discussion and a sale” he said.

Mallon has a personal perspective on the battles between the coliseum and Welker. The Flint Generals left for Saginaw in 1985 because of a battle between the team’s ownership and the Flint IMA Sports Arena The Flint Spirits began operation the next year.

When the Spirits came in, the arena was more receptive” he said. Similarly, Welker has been at odds with coliseum management since taking over the Komets in 1987. “I don’t think David had a good relationship with the arena,” said Mallon, “and that either makes you or breaks you.”