50 Years Ago in Hockey: Possible St. Louis Owner Surfaces

It looks like there might be someone who wants to own a National Hockey League franchise in St. Louis after all. A bid has been received from Sidney Salomon Jr. for an NHL expansion franchise and he is ready to negotiate a deal to buy the St. Louis Arena. The arena is owned by James Norris and Arthur Wirtz of the Chicago Black Hawks. Purchasing the arena is a necessary part of obtaining the franchise.

Once Owned St. Louis Browns

Sidney Salomon Jr,. and son Sidney III.
Sidney Salomon Jr,. and son Sidney III.

Salomon is a local St. Louis investor who has long dabbled in sports franchise ownership. He once shared ownership of the St. Louis Browns of the American League, the St. Louis Cardinals of the National League and recently the Miami Marlins of baseball’s International League.

Salomon said yesterday he hand-delivered a cheque for $10,000 to New York Rangers president William Jennings. Jennings is the head of the NHL expansion committee. Salomon plans to visit each NHL governor to secure their support his franchise application. Following that, he’ll begin negotiations for the arena with Norris and Wirtz.

If successful, he will serve as president, with his son Sid III as governor. He listed one of his partners in the group as Elliott H. Stein, a St. Louis investment banker. Stein was partnered with Salomon as an owner of the baseball Browns.

Salomon says that there are other interested parties but he declined to name anyone until a deal is set in place.

“Many others indicated they wanted to help us but inasmuch as we don’t have them down on paper, we feel we should not name them at this time. We’ll get back to them if everything goes as we anticipate.”

Salomon sees no issues ahead in negotiating a purchase of the arena.

“The Arena is a perfect building for hockey and it is available. Our discussions with Mr. Jennings today were based on the assumption that the building can be purchased for a fair market price. We believe that the owners are reasonable and do not anticipate any trouble.”

Friday Sidney Salomon III, who had been the spokesman for the group until yesterday, said that he had been advised the asking price for the Arena was $4,000,000. He said that the price was too high.

Musial No Longer Interested

Another St. Louis group was preparing to bid for a franchise but withdrew. Stan Musial, former baseball legend with the St. Louis Cardinals, was interested in heading a group that wanted the hockey franchise, but he and his group felt that the price being asked for the rink made the cost of the entire enterprise prohibitive.

Third Group Hasn’t Bid Yet

St. Louis Arena
St. Louis Arena

Yet a third group from the city began negotiations with Wirtz and Norris before making a franchise application. That group is headed by St. Louis insurance man Charles DeWitt. DeWitt, whose father also owned a piece of the St. Louis Browns, says that the arena price quoted to him was $4,500,000.

DeWitt said that the purchase price wouldn’t include the entire complex, which includes a bowling alley and land for parking.

“The price didn’t include the Arena bowling alley. Wirtz was talking about the property from the centre line of the west entry way into the parking lot extending about 12 feet beyond Building A.

“The way we figure it he was talking about 16 acres. We’ve surveyed the situation and believe we could park less than 1000 cars on the property we would own.

“Wirtz offered us terms – he’d take lots of paper – but the interest on such a large loan wold come to something like $400,000 a year. From an economic standpoint, that presents a hard picture.”

Buying Arena a Must

NHL president Clarence Campbell.
NHL president Clarence Campbell.

There had been a groundswell of interest in St. Louis for the construction of a new sports arena as part of the riverfront stadium project. While some felt that the NHL wasn’t concerned about what building would be used by a franchise as long as it met league standards, NHL Clarence Campbell said that wasn’t the case.

Campbell was quoted by a New York paper as saying that the NHL franchise and The Arena are a package that cannot be pulled apart.

“One of our partners, Jim Norris, is the owner of The Arena in St. Louis and a franchise was granted to that city in order to help him sell the building.”

Campbell was asked if the city of St. Louis built a brand-new arena that was superior to the old building in every way if the purchase of The Arena still would be part of the NHL franchise deal.

I do not have a vote. But I would be very much surprised if the other governors did not attempt to assist their partner, Jim Norris, in every way possible.

There is no estimate on what renovations might be needed to bring The Arena up to par, as far as the NHL is concerned.

Howe Boys Shine at Tourney

Gordie Howe with sons Mark and Marty.
Gordie Howe with sons Mark and Marty.

Gordie Howe’s two sons, Mark and Marty, showed they are chips off the old block yesterday. They led their Detroit Roostertails hockey team to a 10-3 win over a team from Cedar Hill, Ontario in the Quebec International PeeWee Hockey Tournament.

Mark had a goal and two assists, while Marty added a pair of helpers.

Gordie Howe attended the game and was accorded a standing ovation by the more than 20,000 fans who jammed into Le Colisee in Quebec City.

Barkley’s Hockey Future Cloudy

Doug Barkley
Doug Barkley

Doug Barkley, the all-star defenseman of the Detroit Red Wings, will undergo a second operation on his injured eye. The results of the surgery could determine whether Barkley will ever again suit up for NHL competition.

Barkley was injured when he was struck in the right eye by a stick during a January 30 game against the Chicago.

An examination yesterday to check on the progress of Barkley’s recovery from his first operation revealed complications. It was discovered that the retina has been partially detached in the back corner of the eye.

Specialists who have treated Barkley said that several of the leading eye clinics around the United States have been contacted. A decision as to which clinic Barkley will be sent to will be made within the next couple of days.

Will Not Return This Year

A second operation rules out any chance that Barkley will return to the Detroit lineup this season. As for continuing his career, a hospital spokesman says that decision will be left entirely up to the player.

The news jolted the Red Wings and general manager-coach Sid Abel. Abel had been, up until the injury, touting Barkley as a strong candidate for the Hart Trophy, awarded to the NHL’s most valuable player.

Now, Abel says, he must find a viable replacement. He said he is attempting to trade for another defender from either Boston or New York.  He doesn’t have much time, since NHL rosters are frozen one month before the end of the season on April 3.


Ab McDonald
Ab McDonald
  • Detroit called up Murray Hall and Gary Doak from Pittsburgh of the AHL for weekend games. Hall was returned to the Hornets yesterday.
  • Red Wings also recalled Ab McDonald from the Memphis Wings of the CPHL.
  • Bruins coach Milt Schmidt says it looks like Ted Green might be out of the Boston lineup for the rest of the season.
  • Former NHL player Frank Shepherd was arrested for panhandling in Vancouver last week. His sentence was suspended when the British Columbia Hockey Benevolent Association found him a job.
  • Bob Baun of the Leafs now has a throat infection which will keep him out of Toronto’s lineup for at least one more game.
  • Punch Imlach reversed his earlier statement and said he may not be able to go to the World Championships in Yugoslavia.
  • Johnny Bower is ready to return to the Toronto net after a groin injury. Gary Smith has been returned to Rochester.
  • Weston Adams, president of the Boston Bruins, says he is in favour of a rule which would make helmets mandatory for all players.
  • New York Rangers have called up Paul Andrea from Minnesota of the CPHL.
  • The new Minneapolis-St. Paul entry into the NHL will be knows as Minnesota. A nickname has not yet been determined.