Lynx owner denies team is folding

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Augusta Lynx fans have something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. As of today, they still have a minor league hockey team to cheer for.

Lynx co-owner and general manager Dan Troutman denied rumors Wednesday that the team was planning to fold before its next game.

The Charlotte Observer briefly reported on its Web site Wednesday afternoon that the Lynx were meeting with the ECHL in preparation to disband, and the Charlotte Checkers had been tabbed by the league as a substitute opponent for tonight's scheduled road game against the Gwinnett Gladiators.

"We're playing in Gwinnett on Thursday and playing at home this weekend," Troutman said Wednesday afternoon.

"I'm not going to tell you there's no substance to it, because we have been struggling to keep things going, but we're still here."

ECHL commissioner Brian McKenna also denied the report of the Lynx's demise.

"That is unequivocally not true," he said. "The Augusta Lynx are moving forward and playing hockey. I was very disappointed to see that (report)."

The league issued a brief statement on Wed-nesday afternoon regarding the Lynx's status.

"In response to published reports about the future of the Augusta membership, the ECHL hereby announces that contrary to those reports the Augusta Lynx continue as a member in the ECHL.

"Any rumors to the contrary are simply not true."

Though the immediate future of the Lynx is safe, the rest of the season and years to come might not be so secure. Troutman acknowledged that the team has faced recent financial troubles and was less confident in the team's long-term future.

"That's what's sad. We're pretty well on our budget for this year, but the cash flow coming in and out has made it tight," he said. "We've only had two weekend home games so far, and that's hurt, but we're going to keep fighting. We're very hopeful that we'll continue on."

Troutman said the team has been in talks with the ECHL about the team's financial problems.

"I'm a firm believer that we're partners (with the league), and they need to know about the good and the bad," Troutman said. "I guess they may have had a contingency plan set up, and that's where all this came from."

A team disbanding in the middle of the season would be unprecedented in the ECHL. The Pensacola Ice Pilots folded this off-season and the Columbia Inferno went into a voluntary suspension, but no team has ever folded in the middle of an ECHL season.

McKenna said the league isn't set up to take over a financially struggling team, but it would try to do what was necessary to help.

"We've never had it happen in 21 years, and we don't want for that to happen," McKenna said. "It's never been asked of us (to help out a team financially). I don't want to deal with that hypothetical, but we're not set up that way."

Though untrue, the report out of Charlotte spread quickly to Augusta and sent some Lynx fans into a panic Wednesday afternoon. Lynx group sales manager Michael Ehmke said the Lynx office fielded more than 200 phone calls from fans inquiring about the state of the team.

"All we could tell them was that the info they had was inaccurate," Ehmke said. "We were all here just ready to leave for Thanksgiving vacation and this hit the fan."

The Lynx (5-8-2) are in last place in the ECHL South Division. They'll face fourth-place Gwinnett (6-6-3) on the road tonight before returning home for a Saturday night game against fifth-place Charlotte (5-8-2).

Reach Billy Byler at (706) 823-3216 or


June 1998: George Gillespie purchased the Raleigh Ice Caps with the intentions of moving the team to Augusta.

Nov. 22, 2002: Gillespie introduced Augusta Ice Sports Center co-owner Pete Budwick as a minority owner, the first local member of ownership.

Sept. 24, 2003: The ECHL approved the sale of the Augusta Lynx to Augusta Entertainment LLC, a local group led by car dealership owner Frank Lawrence. The new group, which purchased the team for just over $1 million, also included William S. Morris III, chairman and chief executive officer of Morris Communications Co., and publisher of The Augusta Chronicle.

April 20, 2006: The ECHL approved the sale of the Lynx to the Group Operating the Augusta Lynx (G.O.A.L.). The new group was led by local businessman Dan Troutman, who still owns the team along with Jan Hodges Burch and Robert Burch.

-- Billy Byler

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Dan Lehr
Dan Lehr 11/27/08 - 11:45 am
The Lynx team and there games

The Lynx team and there games are for sale for the public to view. The team has changed in the way they are presented to the public and the public is not going to pay to see them play. Last year the team made it thru the season and did fine job by the sales that they generated. Now this season they changed many things that public,FANS, do not like and they are staying away.It would seem to be clear if it is not what the fans want,give them what they want!!!!!!! We have money and will pay to see what we want to see. And a new look and a loosing team is not going to get me to open my wallet .Lower ticket prices in the upper deck to $5.00 and see how the people will come and watch the game. As for low money in November,the fans are using buy one get one free tickets the Lynx gave out,and have to be used by December. It doesn't take much to see the business plan is in bad shape and will sink the team if it is not looked at all over again. Sorry but change is not working here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AKOH5 11/27/08 - 05:06 pm
What has been changed that is

What has been changed that is keeping the public away? I'm just wondering. The season ticket prices are the same, the individual prices are the same, and the group rates are deeper discounted than last year. I don't think it is any secret that the Lynx always have a tough time before January due to scheduling conflicts with the arena. Not to mention that they compete with high school and college football from October to January as well. Who cares if they give out buy one get one coupons, to me it seems like an effort to keep costs low for more people to come. If they offered a $5 ticket they would need 1,200 people to come to make $6,000 in revenue. If the ticket is $12 they need 500 to make the same profit. The problem is not the price, it is the fact that too many people here believe it is just about a hockey game and not family entertainment. Until the culture changes the price is not going to make a difference. I agree that the in-arena entertainment could be improved and that might help. But honestly, by how much? I hope they stay, but slashing prices won't help them any with the situation they are apparently in now. I will continue to attend and hope for the best

AKOH5 11/27/08 - 05:35 pm
Dan_Lehr just so you know the

Dan_Lehr just so you know the Lynx had the third highest increase in attendance in the ECHL last year, so I'm fairly confident they know what they are doing and more than us on this board do.

PTHS225 11/27/08 - 11:10 pm
Woohoo! We played tonight and

Woohoo! We played tonight and Dirk and Sully scored! Oh wait......

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