Bulls, city agree on lease

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 29, 2004

A South East Hockey League team using the name the &uot;Bulls&uot; signed a lease with the city of Pelham this week, moving the city one step closer to hosting a professional hockey team again this fall.

The Bulls will begin play at the Pelham Civic Complex in October, provided the SEHL is able to field at least six teams this season.

&uot;It’s a condition of the lease that the league has to have at least six teams,&uot; said Pelham Mayor Bobby Hayes.

The SEHL already has commitments from three cities, including Pelham, according to league president John Cherney, and would need to land three more for the lease to be valid.

The deal was worked out after Hayes met with a local ownership group associated with the SEHL. Members of that group have not yet been publicly identified.

&uot;I think if they get their six teams it’s a viable league,&uot; Hayes said. &uot;The people involved in the league, we did a pretty good background check on them. They’re a solid bunch. They don’t owe money anywhere, we checked.&uot;

The Alabama Slammers, who played at the Pelham Civic Complex last season, fell out of favor with the city and local businesses after failing to pay off debt accumulated during the team’s first year as a member of the WHA2.

The team’s lease expired May 31 and was not renewed by the city.

&uot;(The Slammers) still owe the city money and they owe businesses money and they haven’t made any attempt to pay it back,&uot; Hayes said.

Despite local media reports suggesting otherwise, Hayes said the Slammers have made no attempts to return to Pelham next season.

&uot;We haven’t heard anything from those guys since April 8,&uot; he said.

Reporter phone calls to Slammers president Taylor Hall were not returned.

The Pelham SEHL franchise will join existing teams in Cape Fear, N.C. and Knoxville, Tenn. Cherney said the league is close to making deals with at least two other cities.

&uot;We’re pleased to continue to have hockey in Pelham,&uot; Hayes said. &uot;There are some good solid hockey fans in this area.&uot;

Hayes said the Pelham Civic Complex will continue to host high school wrestling and volleyball tournaments during their scheduled dates