The New England Whalers completed negotiations with the Springfield Civic Center Friday and announced their remaining home games, plus all playoff games, will be played there.
The Whalers thus erased the last wisps of doubt about the team's future in the World Hockey Association.
"We've got it (the Springfield center) for this year and next year too, if necessary," said Howard Baldwin, managing general partner of the team.
The agreement was reached after two days of talks with Gerald M. Healy, director of the Springfield center, after the Hartford Civic Center coliseum roof collapsed Wednesday morning.
A revised home schedule also was announced by the Whalers. Only eight of the remaining 20 home dates are unchanged. Events scheduled in the Springfield arena on nights that caused schedule conflicts forced the changes.
The first Whalers game in Springfield will be Sunday at 7 p.m. against the Quebec Nordiques. The Quebec game is the last home game for the Whalers this month. The next is Feb. 1 against the Edmonton Oilers. There are four games in February, 12 in March and three in April.
No tickets are available for Sunday's game. The Whalers have designed a revised seating plan, so that season ticket holders and persons who had purchased tickets in advance will be accommodated.
"No other team in sports could go through what we have just experience and still operate," Baldwin said. "The reaction of the fans in Hartford and Springfield communities has been very supportive. Everyone has been pulling together and there is no question in my mind that we will have a very successful stay in Springfield until we are able to move back to our Hartford home."
The Springfield Visitors and Convention Bureau, Police Department, and business community have announced plans to help fans coming from Connecticut find the arena and convenient parking areas.
All but three of the 20 home games will start at 7:30 p.m. Sunday's game begins at 7 p.m., the March 25 game with the Swedish National team is at 2 p.m., and the March 26 game with Edmonton is at 4 p.m.
The game with the Sweden team and a March 28 game with the Finnish National team are exhibition games and will not count in the standings.
The Whalers' road schedule will remain the same.
Grasso To Attend
Gov. Grasso will attend Sunday's game. A spokesman for the governor said that she would honor two prior commitments "but expects to be there by the second period."
Two private bus companies, Dattco and Arrow, have arranged shuttle-bus service from the Hartford area to Springfield and back for Whaler games.
Arrow will operate buses from Corbins Corner in West Hartford, the Department of Transportation building on Wolcott Hill Road in Wethersfield and from the corner of Main Street and Connecticut Boulevard, known as "Church Corners," in East Hartford. The fee will be $3 per person. The buses will leave at 5:30 p.m. and return immediately after the games.
Dattco, which has 10 buses available for the service, says buses will leave from in front of the Hartford Civic Center at Trumbull and Asylum streets and return immediately after the games. The charge will be $2.70 per person.
The state of Connecticut had hoped to run its own shuttle-bus service for the games, but after Dattco and Arrow objected, the Interstate Commerce Commission denied permission, saying the state couldn't compete with private companies on an interstate run.
The Springfield Civic Center has a 7,400-person capacity for hockey, about 3,000 fewer than the Hartford building. Like Hartford, it offers an unobstructed view because it has no posts.
The aisles have no railings, but the pitch is not steep. A four-sided, cube-type scoreboard hangs from the ceiling at center ice.
About 3,500 parking spaces lie within a five-minute walk of the building, including a parking garage adjacent to the civic center, which has a 1,100-car capacity. A skywalk connects the garage to the building, which has two other entrances. The civic center takes up one city block on Main Street.
From The Courant Archives: Jan. 21, 1978