William R. Putnam, owner of the World Football League's Birmingham
Americans, says he plans to bring big league professional hockey to
Birmingham as early as 1976. "As soon as a contract is let (on the
arena portion of the Civic Center) and work starts and there's a completion
date set, I'll negotiate a lease," Putnam said.
Putnam plans to buy an existing World Hockey Association team and move it
to Birmingham. He would not name the team. "There's a WHA team that you
can buy for $2 million and move it. If we had the building, I know we could
buy it right now," Putnam said.
The WHA just completed it's second season and was co-founded by Gary
Davidson, who also founded the World Football League late last year and the
American Basketball Association in 1968.
The National Hockey League does not allow the moving of existing teams
and an expansion franchise in the NHL would cost $6 million. Over the last
few years, Putnam has been involved with the NHL's Atlanta Flames and the
Putnam believes there is a strong hockey interest in Birmingham that
could sustain a team. "I've been concentrating on football and I
haven't had time to investigate anything else, but so many people have asked
me that there must be interest. Hockey is a good spectator sport, maybe the
best. But it's a terrible television sport," Putnam said.