Diamonds and Ice

RoughRiders’ sale dead

Have heard from sources that the proposed sale of the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders to Canadian businessman Gary Gelinas is dead.

Gelinas, who owns a junior team in British Columbia and runs a minor-pro team in New Mexico, had come to an agreement to purchase the local USHL club from current owners Mercantile Capital Partners of Chicago. But before the deal could officially be worked out, OK had to be given by the United States Hockey League.

That did not happen, sources said, with the league questioning Gelinas’ financial viability to run the franchise successfully.

Now it’s back to square one yet again for the RoughRiders. This is the third potential sale that has not gone through. A Chicago businessman was in line to purchase the team last year, but that deal fell through, as did a potential deal with the owners of the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers.

What this means for the future of the RoughRiders in Cedar Rapids is anyone’s guess, though that future certainly has gotten much more cloudy. The city and Mercantile Capital Partners worked out an extension of an expired lease last year that keeps the team in the City of Five Seasons through next season.

But after that, who knows now?

As soon as we get hold of RR owner Steven Edelson or Gelinas, we’ll let you know what they have to say.

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.”

Deal to sell RoughRiders continues forward

Word is the sale of the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders to a Canadian businessman continues to move forward, though slowly.

The framework for a deal to sell the club to Gary Gelinas has pretty much been finalized. There are a couple of things yet to be done, though, including Gelinas’ desire to meet with the city’s Five Seasons Facilities Commission to talk about a long-term lease to remain in the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena. The current lease runs through next season.

The franchise is owned by Mercantile Capital Partners of Chicago, who has had it on the market for a year after attempts to negotiate a long-term lease with the city failed. Word has it the frosty relationship that developed between MCP and the Five Seasons Facilities Commission had much to do with a former RoughRiders’ front-office employee.

Gelinas, by the way, is president and general manager of the New Mexico Scorpions of the minor-pro Central Hockey League. He also owns a junior team in the British Columbia Hockey League.

So is this potential ownership change a good thing for the RoughRiders or not? What’s your view?

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Will new ownership be a good thing for Cedar Rapids RoughRiders?
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