Diamonds and Ice

RoughRiders sale in hands of USHL

Steven Edelson, one of the owners of the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, was in town for Tuesday night’s home game against Tri-City and told The Gazette the deal to sell the team to a Canadian businessman has to be OKed by the United States Hockey League before it can proceed further.

Gary Gelinas, who owns a junior team in British Columbia and runs a Central Hockey League team in New Mexico, has agreed to purchase the club from Mercantile Capital Partners of Chicago. MCP has had the club for sale since the middle of last season.

“We’ve negotiated with a perspective owner,” Edelson said. “And it goes (from there) to the USHL … I need to get word from them before I move any further.”

It was expected that a vote on the sale of the team would happen at the USHL Prospects/All-Star Game in Sioux Falls, S.D., last week, but Gelinas was unable to attend the game and preceding league meeting.

“We have a new commissioner (Ellis Prince), and he wants to do a really good job,” Edelson said. “With the history of what happened before I bought it, he wants to make sure that whoever buys it is (an acceptable owner). We turned this around in one season, so he wants to make sure the people that get (the franchise) are the right people for the league.”

Edelson reiterated his unhappiness with the city over failure for the two sides to come to a long-term lease agreement to remain in the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena. Mercantile Capital Partners has long said the lease prevents it from turning a profit. The sides agreed to extend through next season an expired lease negotiated six years ago by original RoughRiders owner Butch Johnson.

It is believed Gelinas wants to speak with the city’s Five Seasons Facilities Commission about a long-term lease before officially signing off on any deal. Five Seasons Facilities Commission president Patrick DePalma said in an e-mail last week that he had no comment on whether the city and Gelinas have spoken.

“I think we all want (the franchise) to stay here in Cedar Rapids,” Edelson said. “The problem is with this team, no matter what you do here because of this terrible lease, you can only make a little but you can always lose a lot.”


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