PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) – NEWS CENTER has learned that the Portland Pirates will be moving to Springfield, Massachusetts.
NEWS CENTER's Lee Goldberg confirmed that current owner Ron Cain has sold the team and the new ownership group will move them to Springfield.
Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling said losing the team, "will have a terrible impact on the local economy."
The Portland Pirates are an affiliate of the Florida Panthers. They are a minor professional hockey team in the American Hockey League.
The Springfield Falcons were purchased by their affiliate, the Arizona Coyotes, in April. The club announced that they hope to move the Falcons to Tucson, Arizona in time for next season.
"Once approved, the Coyotes hope to move the AHL franchise to the Tucson Convention Center (TCC) and are in conversations with the City and Rio Nuevo to relocate the franchise to Tucson, Arizona, beginning with the 2016-17 AHL season," the Springfield Falcons said in a press release.
Portland has been the host city to a minor league hockey team for almost 40 years, dating back to the Maine Mariners. When the Mariners left in 1992, there was a one year gap before the Pirates made Portland their home in 1993.
The Pirates released a statement on the sale:
"The Portland Pirates have announced that a letter of intent has been signed with an outsider buyer to purchase and relocate the AHL franchise to a new city. The details of the agreement were not disclosed and final sale is pending approval of the AHL Board of Governors and the Florida Panthers.
All previously purchased season tickets for the 2016-2017 season will be refunded."
There is a clause in the teams lease of the Cross Insurance Arena that requires a $100,000 penalty if the lease is broken.
This is is a developing story-- check back for updates.