Originally created 04/25/06

New ownership is reviving Lynx

The change that swept through the Augusta Lynx organization late last week didn't just blow away a hovering cloud of uncertainty. It marked a second wind that already is breathing new life into the team financially.

"Season ticket sales have gotten very brisk," said Dan Troutman, the face of the team's new ownership, Group Operating the Augusta Lynx (G.O.A.L.).

"Uncertainty always tends to make people nervous, no matter what the uncertainty is," Troutman said. "I think a lot of devout fans were very uncertain about the future. It's been pretty obvious that as soon as the future became certain, they got certain and began renewing their season tickets."

General manager Rob Mueller said the team's purchase has had phones ringing off the hook with ticket buyers at the downtown offices.

"It's been like a fresh start for everybody," Mueller said.

Mueller said the staff is trying to transfer that energy into a goal of renewing 90 to 95 percent of current season ticket holders by June 1. Ultimately, Mueller said, the team wants to sell about 1,500 season tickets.

Sales likely will receive another boost within the week, as coach Bob Ferguson, who took the Lynx to the playoffs this season for the first time since 2001, is expected to sign a multiple-year contract. Mueller also is expected to agree to an extension.

"I think it's fair to say that we've reached an agreement in principle with Bob and Rob in regard to their continued help with the Augusta Lynx," Troutman said Monday. "And I would expect a contract announcement in very short order."

Ferguson called the optimism surrounding the new ownership "a breath of fresh air.

"I think the franchise definitely needed a little bit of a jump-start, and the new ownership group is very aware and very willing to get that done," said Ferguson, who has never missed the playoffs as a coach. "I know just in talking to the players that they're very interested in returning."

Also, Mueller said the staff soon should be back to the eight to 10 full-time members it employed at the start of the season, possibly more.

In addition, the new ownership and staff is hoping to extend its lease with Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center management. Two years remain on the current agreement.

Troutman said he plans to introduce himself to the Coliseum Authority board and answer any questions at its monthly meeting today.

Reach Steve Sanders at (706) 823-3216 or steven.l.sanders@augustachronicle.com.


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