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Buss Hopes to Get Another Southland NHL Franchise

June 21, 1989|JERRY CROWE | Times Staff Writer

Jerry Buss, owner of the Lakers and the Forum and a former owner of the Kings, has told the National Hockey League expansion committee that he is interested in acquiring a franchise.

Buss, who last year sold his controlling interest in the Kings to Bruce McNall, told the San Diego Tribune that he had sent a letter to the NHL indicating that he would be willing to own a team in San Diego or Orange County and might also consider Northern California.

Buss' desire "has been communicated to the NHL expansion committee via (McNall)," Bob Steiner, director of public relations for the Buss-owned California Sports, Inc., said Tuesday.

McNall is a member of the NHL's expansion committee, which will report on possible expansion to the league's Board of Governors in December.

NHL President John Ziegler said Monday that the board would decide at that time whether the league should expand.

Buss has not made a formal application for an expansion team "because the league hasn't solicited any," Steiner said. "And they haven't indicated . . . when there will be expansion."

Buss told the San Diego Tribune that his first preference would be to own a team in Southern California.

"I live here," he said. "If you own a franchise, you want to go to all the games. That would be tough in Northern California."

Ziegler said that representatives of Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, San Jose, Dallas, Houston, San Diego and Anaheim have expressed interest in expansion franchises, as have representatives of Hamilton, Canada, and Kitchener, Canada. He also said that franchises have been sought for the Soviet Union and Sweden.

New arenas are planned in Anaheim and San Diego.

Two businessmen recently purchased the lease for the San Diego Sports Arena and plan to replace the 13,000-seat facility with a $110-million arena large enough to accommodate NHL and National Basketball Assn. teams.

The proposed 20,000-seat arena would be modeled after the Palace of Auburn Hills, Mich., home of the Detroit Pistons. Richard Esquinas said that he and partner Harry Cooper are leaning toward building downtown.

"We'll be interested in talking to (Buss)," Esquinas told the Tribune.

Buss said that he sold his majority interest in the Kings while attempting to buy the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League.

"I just love the game," Buss said. "I hated to part with the Kings."

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