Game is over for Lynx

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Video from the Lynx press conference.

After 10 1/2 years of minor league hockey in Augusta, time finally ran out on the Augusta Lynx.

Financial troubles and failed attempts to find additional investors caught up with the team, and Lynx owners Dan Troutman, Robert Burch and Jan Hodges Burch turned their league membership back in to the ECHL on Tuesday by a 5 p.m. deadline set by the league.

Mr. Troutman said he requested that the league take over operations to allow the Lynx to finish the season, but the ECHL Board of Governors voted against it, signifying the end of the team.

"We've had support in Augusta. We have. It just wasn't quite enough. Just like I'm standing here, and I don't quite have enough either right now," Ms. Burch said at a news conference at Enterprise Mill. "I'm sorry to Augusta. I'm sorry for the community. ... This is a great loss for Augusta."

Lynx ownership pleaded for financial help from any source at a news conference Friday, but the ECHL's deadline, set after the team approached the league seeking financial help, hit Tuesday without a deal in place. Mr. Troutman said the team needed $200,000 to $300,000 to continue operations.

The Lynx became the first team in the 21-year history of the ECHL to fold midseason. The league confirmed the news in a statement released Tuesday evening, saying, "The move comes as a result of the Augusta ownership group being unable to continue to operate in 2008."

"We wished we could have continued on," Mr. Burch said. "It's been one of those perfect storms where nobody is willing to step up to the plate and try to help save the hockey team in Augusta." Mr. Burch said the Lynx's financial problems weren't from sponsorship issues but came from lack of support.

"It's just that we didn't get the support from Augusta as far as people in the coliseum that we needed to come," he said. "You can look at our numbers, and we did very well with corporate sponsorship; we did very poorly with getting people to come out and see the game."

The Lynx have ranked no better than 20th in the ECHL in attendance over the past 21/2 seasons. Through seven games this season, the team averaged 2,722 fans per game, more than 1,600 fans below the league average.

Still, the Lynx have been the primary tenant at James Brown Arena since they began play in the 1998-99 season. Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority Chairman Richard Isdell said the city's largest venue will miss the hockey team.

"I'm disappointed," he said. "If the Coliseum Authority could've done anything to keep them, we would have."

The Lynx signed a two-year lease in June with the coliseum authority that, for the first time, included a share of the parking and concessions revenue.

"They had to go above and beyond to reap those benefits," Mr. Isdell said. "I don't think they really did."

The Lynx leave 29 open dates, which Mr. Isdell said could help bring new acts to the arena for valuable weekend dates in the coming months.

Mr. Isdell said the team still owes $50,000 for signage from last season. He's unsure how much the Lynx owe this year.

"They've got some settling up to do with us before they walk out the door," he said.

After this weekend's Disney on Ice performance, Mr. Isdell said, the ice will be thawed to save money on cooling costs.

The Lynx's demise leaves the Augusta GreenJackets baseball team as the lone established minor league team in Augusta operating in 2009.

"I am deeply saddened by the news on the Augusta Lynx," Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver said in an e-mail. "The team, as well as the ownership of the organization, has been a key component of our city's growing reputation as being one of the premier minor league sports markets in the nation."

Staff writer Chris Gay contributed to this article.

Reach Billy Byler at (706) 823-3216 or billy.byler@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (55) Add comment
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LadyCisback
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LadyCisback 12/03/08 - 05:38 am
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Way to go Augusta!!!.. you've

Way to go Augusta!!!.. you've done it again.. wanting to be a city of growth and development and you let something like this go!!..

iletuknow
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iletuknow 12/03/08 - 05:55 am
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It's called the free market.

It's called the free market.

bone
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bone 12/03/08 - 06:41 am
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gee, how am i gonna get my

gee, how am i gonna get my hockey needs fulfilled now?

PTHS225
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PTHS225 12/03/08 - 07:21 am
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That's nice - Blame the fans.

That's nice - Blame the fans. "The prices will increase until the seats fill up!" Where do I get a refund for the $6k I spent during the last 3 seasons for "non-support"? But more importantly, who is going to hand out the teddy bears?

fattie
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fattie 12/03/08 - 07:53 am
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PTHS I don't think Lynx

PTHS I don't think Lynx ownership is blaming the fans, but the lack of fans. It is obvious the small number of fans the team did have was the only thing keeping them afloat for 10 1/2 years. iletuknow nailed it - free market. There just wasn't a market for this sport in the CSRA.

rufus
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rufus 12/03/08 - 08:36 am
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It ain't just the Lynx. We

It ain't just the Lynx. We may see Nascar go as well

fattie
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fattie 12/03/08 - 08:53 am
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One more thought. I love

One more thought. I love hockey and I love the Lynx. I am ashamed for not doing my part by attending more games. It is me, and those like me, who should be apologizing to the players, Lynx management, investors, and team owners. WE let YOU down.
But I think we are forgetting the crucial role local businesses, organizations, and churches play. The team relies not only on individual ticket sales but on group sales to stay afloat. It is difficult to develop a sound business plan if you are relying on the support of this fickle community to generate revenue.

zzorro
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zzorro 12/03/08 - 08:54 am
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>Time: 10 years / 1 month /

>Time: 10 years / 1 month / 17 days >Games: 734 >Goals: 2262 >Players: 311 >Coaches: 7 >Memories: Countless >>>Thanks Augusta Lynx ----

Johnny Chimpo
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Johnny Chimpo 12/03/08 - 09:11 am
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Good riddance. How about the

Good riddance. How about the Lynx put a good product on the ice and maybe i will attend some games. So basically Troutman is saying they just stole money from their sponsors. Local businesses paid to put signs up, but no one is there to see them, great business model.

MakinMusic
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MakinMusic 12/03/08 - 09:18 am
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I think the Colts, Foxhounds

I think the Colts, Foxhounds and the Lynx should play each other in a charity golf outing. But who would pay for the Green fees?

trueamerican
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trueamerican 12/03/08 - 09:27 am
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I really feel for everyone

I really feel for everyone who did invest their money to support the lynx this season. I just hope that people who are owed money from the team get it back in a timely manner.

imdstuf
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imdstuf 12/03/08 - 10:06 am
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That is how we are here. We

That is how we are here. We complain that there is nothing to do, or that we do not have what other cities have, but when they give us a sports team, some concerts, performing arts, etc we do not come out to support it. Then again the jobs here do not pay alot of people well enough to do so.

dale88fan
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dale88fan 12/03/08 - 10:18 am
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hockey sucks !! See - Ya !!

hockey sucks !! See - Ya !!

ugadawgbite
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ugadawgbite 12/03/08 - 10:19 am
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I guess I'm not getting my

I guess I'm not getting my refund for that motorcycle raffle that never happened??

jackfruitpaper833
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jackfruitpaper833 12/03/08 - 10:20 am
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The seats have always been

The seats have always been empty at these games, they probably need to do like the WNBA give away FREE tickets, or reduce the price. The times I went to a Lynx game I had free tickets and still it wasn't anyone there. Reminds me of the 10 free tickets I had to a Greenjackets game, I couldn't give them away. Augusta does not need a downtown stadium, surely the semi-pro basketball team is next.

ugadawgbite
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ugadawgbite 12/03/08 - 10:29 am
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If it was a semi-pro

If it was a semi-pro basketball team there would be a public outcry, and they would use city funds to bail it out. I've been to the LYNX games several times and it was never even half full. Face it, Augusta sux when it comes to supporting any sports teams.

MyHumbleOpinion
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MyHumbleOpinion 12/03/08 - 10:33 am
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Don't blame the people of

Don't blame the people of Augusta! The Coliseum Authority is more culpable than anyone. Their refusal to share with parking and vending profits is a major cause for the teams demise. I generally spent more on vending and parking at the games than I did on the tickets and did not mind because I thought it supported the team.

SlapShot2
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SlapShot2 12/03/08 - 10:36 am
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I was waiting on Jack Fruit

I was waiting on Jack Fruit Cake. Always so negative. We arent discussing a baseball stadium, yet you had to thrown in. Sounds like you need to go down to Green jackets office and have a talk with them because you have an issue with the team. Hey jerk, if you leave me your email address I will send you mine and when you get ten Green Jacket tickets email me I will use them.

triscuit
3076
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triscuit 12/03/08 - 10:37 am
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It is sad to see if go, but

It is sad to see if go, but unfair for some to compare it to the Greenjackets. The Greenjackets is baseball, a sport that most everone likes. Hockey is basically a northern sport. Not that we southerners can't appreciate it, but it is not a sport a lot of us grew up watching or playing. Also a lot of the games are on "school nights" and can be late for kids, whereas kids are out of school during baseball season. All in all, yes we should have supported it more, but I am sure there is plenty of blame on the administrative side also. I hope the players and staff can move on to better things. Maybe if the car business wasn't in the tank, Ms. Burch could have saved it...

curly123053
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curly123053 12/03/08 - 10:54 am
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I attended a few hockey games

I attended a few hockey games in Augusta and it was indeed a fun time each time I went, but I noticed the empty seats in the civic center. It was obvious to me that maybe the Lynx needed to be playing in a smaller venue similar to the USCA Convocation Center. Bigger venues are not always better as this has shown. I think ice hockey can do well in this area in a smaller place, and it really was cheap inexpensive fun for the families.

I_Wear_Lipstick_2
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I_Wear_Lipstick_2 12/03/08 - 11:38 am
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As a northern transplant to

As a northern transplant to Augusta I was excited to see a hockey team in town! Yes, the attendance was awful...but the excitement level at the games was even worse. Hockey in the south is nothing like it is up north. I honestly think most of the fans didn't even understand the game, they just cheered when the light flashed a goal. While its sad to see them go, the coliseum authorities need to realize that unless they cater to the local demographics, attendance will never rise for a sporting event.

Johnny Chimpo
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Johnny Chimpo 12/03/08 - 12:05 pm
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It wasn't the game or the

It wasn't the game or the JBA, it was crappy management. Some rich people seem to think if they buy a sports team they can run it. Troutman is proof it doesn't work. What is the next sport to come to Augusta and die?

palomino9
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palomino9 12/03/08 - 12:23 pm
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good, and goodbye, hockey is

good, and goodbye, hockey is nothing but an excuse for grown men to beat each other up. it is not a sport, and is a very bad influence on young people. the so called game should be banned in the entire country.

booger
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booger 12/03/08 - 01:09 pm
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Might as well board up the

Might as well board up the civic center and cut the losses. Maybe that way we can get rid of the coliseum authority.

steve-o
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steve-o 12/03/08 - 01:24 pm
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Hockey is boring. Nascar has

Hockey is boring. Nascar has become so tame that I have all but stopped watching it as well.

palomino9
0
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palomino9 12/03/08 - 01:48 pm
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maybe you shoudl try reading

maybe you shoudl try reading a book, if you are able to read

philandlinda
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philandlinda 12/03/08 - 02:46 pm
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Augusta, we know how you

Augusta, we know how you feel! We lost the Pee Dee Pride to bad management a couple of years ago here in Florence, SC, and the Columbia Inferno is not operating, either, waiting on an arena to be built. This still ain't hockey country, unfortunately!

backpac-bill
0
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backpac-bill 12/03/08 - 02:53 pm
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How about collecting a $1.00

How about collecting a $1.00 donation from all that can, and help
keep this team and it's players here in Augusta.Setup at one of the banks (account) for this.I would go out and help/collect donations for this. No i'am not a fan of this sport,but would support it.

Iceman
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Iceman 12/03/08 - 03:10 pm
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For those comparing the

For those comparing the Geenjackets, there IS no comparison. They get financial support from the parent club. Minor league hockey gets zip, zero, NADA.

sophiecat1
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sophiecat1 12/03/08 - 03:15 pm
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No one attended the Lynx

No one attended the Lynx games because only loud and drunk rednecks were there. Get some class and maybe you'll have a shot at bringing them back!

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