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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soccerguy74
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soccerguy74 12/03/08 - 03:16 pm
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I'm confused. My family and I

I'm confused. My family and I loved the Lynx, but if they were in financial trouble why did it just come out a week ago? These things take time to fix. It was also mentioned that they couldn't fill the seats. Fans like familiarity, fans like coming to see a team of players that they know and recognize. Fans like to be able to say hey there's Dan Kopec, or hey there's Judd Lambert, or hey there's Jesse Resansoff, not hey there's #25, who the heck is that. Fans don't want to show up at the next home game and realize that 5 players got called up to another team and the roster spots are filled with sub-par players. You don't build cohesion like that, and you wind up fielding a group of players that are unfamiliar with eachother resulting in poor play. That in a sense alienantes the fans. I don't know of too many fans who would want to spend their hard earned money on a team they are unfamiliar with and know will be bad

tmlad
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tmlad 12/03/08 - 03:17 pm
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Lost in all the back and

Lost in all the back and forth of who's to blame and who cares is the impact this will have on the local economy. Keep in mind, the Lynx had employees other than management, coaches and players. Those people have lost their jobs. Even members of the JBA's event staff are effected, as Lynx games account for the majority of events at the JBA.

bdittle
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bdittle 12/03/08 - 03:19 pm
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Roller-derby! We need roller

Roller-derby! We need roller derby!

palomino9
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palomino9 12/03/08 - 03:19 pm
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you just exposed the

you just exposed the backwoods idiot that you are

bdittle
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bdittle 12/03/08 - 03:25 pm
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yeeee ha!

yeeee ha!

tmoney316
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tmoney316 12/03/08 - 03:28 pm
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You know it is AMAZING how

You know it is AMAZING how everybody will travel 2 hours to ATLANTA and 3 hours to CHARLOTTE pay more money to see concerts and sporting events than see them here in AUGUSTA it is just mind blowing how people are here in this CITY just does not make sense at all. So don't complain when everything is GONE it will be real SOON!!! People in AUGUSTA are LAZZZZZY!!!

psychobetty
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psychobetty 12/03/08 - 04:22 pm
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bdlittle, we have roller

bdlittle, we have roller derby. They are called the Soul City Sirens and you can find them on myspace or google. Please support them!
BTW, anyone know what Jesse Resansoff, Kopec, etc are up to these days? I was a hardcore fan back in their day. Moved to Aiken and did not get a chance to keep up as much. The games I did go to in the past couple years were a little sad. Folks just didn't go as crazy as they did the first few years.

sickemdawgs4509
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sickemdawgs4509 12/03/08 - 04:32 pm
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I hate to say i told you so,

I hate to say i told you so, but I think everyone saw this coming. This is just poor managemet of a sports franchise, and an example of what happens when Fans of the team try and run the team. Message to Jack Fruit: the greenjackets are the only legitimate family friendly entertainment left in this town. I have been to numerous games that were sold out, and the downtown stadium is right now the only thing that can save a city that is otherwise going nowhere.
Makin Music: That sounds like a foursome that can only be rounded out by the likes of downtown johnny

lord919
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lord919 12/03/08 - 04:41 pm
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Charlotte and Atlanta are

Charlotte and Atlanta are thriving cities compared to this town. If the JB Arena committee could schedule some concerts worth going to, then maybe us lazy folks would not have to drive so far to see quality entertainment! It is worth the trip! If you expect nothing from this town to begin with, your disappointment will be less. I have lived here all my life and it is not an exciting place to be. I am more than happy to drive somewhere else to see a concert, etc.

HippieChick
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HippieChick 12/03/08 - 04:45 pm
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Hockey is a nothern thing. Be

Hockey is a nothern thing. Be real how many people from the south grew up ice skating or playing hockey? I went to a few games other then the fights it was boring.

rainingoranges
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rainingoranges 12/03/08 - 05:10 pm
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The reason hockey isn't a big

The reason hockey isn't a big hit in the South is because momentum has little to nothing to do with the outcome of a game. Like in soccer, one team can dominate the other the whole game, but the lesser team can get lucky, score a few points and win a game. To win a football or baseball game, you usually have to string together a few good things in order to get a point, not just run/skate by someone once. Not that hockey/soccer are any easier, just that if you are used to a game where the past minutes matter to the current ones, it makes them less exciting to watch.

Irish Hockey
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Irish Hockey 12/03/08 - 06:15 pm
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I allow for all the

I allow for all the ignoramuses to belittle a sport they know nothing about. But hockey is not a Northern sport. Thrashers, Canes, Bolts, Panthers. And attendance is good at these teams games. And unlike football - 10 seconds of pandemonium followed by 35 seconds of group hug and butt-slapping - hockey offers 35 seconds of pandemonium followed by 10 seconds of buildup to 35 seconds more of pandemonium. And don't get me started on nascar. If I want to see a bunch of rednecks racing around a parking lot jockeying for position to a parking spot I'll just sit on a berm at the Augusta Mall during Christmas shopping season!!!

curly123053
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curly123053 12/03/08 - 06:46 pm
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The curtain has lowered and

The curtain has lowered and the show is over.........

Johnny Chimpo
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Johnny Chimpo 12/03/08 - 06:50 pm
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The Tampa Bay Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning didn't even sell out any of their playoff games until they got to the Stanley Cup. Hockey is dead in America, period. If you want to see hockey move to Canada. I'm an American, I watch Baseball and Football, outdoors or indoors.

iletuknow
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iletuknow 12/03/08 - 07:07 pm
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Why do sport people feel they

Why do sport people feel they have to get out of the house,spend a bundle on admission and parking,being fleeced on snacks and made-in-china trinkets to see sport events?
For $50 a month there must be 25 or so HD sport channels on my directv service.

corgimom
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corgimom 12/03/08 - 08:26 pm
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There are just as many loud

There are just as many loud drunks at the baseball games. I went to my last Green Jackets game when a very drunk man exposed himself to me, my child, and a friend's child.

SlapShot2
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SlapShot2 12/03/08 - 10:00 pm
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So Corgimom did you tell the

So Corgimom did you tell the police officers that work the games? If you did I am sure the police officer or staff handled it. If you didnt you sux as a parent and good citizen.

GnipGnop
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GnipGnop 12/03/08 - 10:06 pm
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Anyone that is a fan of the

Anyone that is a fan of the game and follows the game knows that a 1 to 0 hockey game is as exciing as a baseball pitching duel. To the moron that says it's not a sport? Lace up the skates and try it them come back and run your mouth. I am not a northerner but I am a true hockey nut. I loved watching the Lynx and I follow the Thrashers and the Dallas Stars. Augusta just took another step toward bankruptcy. It's time for a changing of the guards. Where was Deke? He should have been out in front campaigning for the hockey team like he has for the baseball stadium. I mean after all he is Augusta's PR...uh I mean mayor.

SlapShot2
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SlapShot2 12/03/08 - 10:23 pm
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Augusta Lynx tag line...We

Augusta Lynx tag line...We are excitement...now its We are GONE or We are LIARS or We are stealing your money. Good news with the ECHL's playoff system I think we can still make the playoffs.

youbetcha
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youbetcha 12/03/08 - 11:14 pm
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Augusta is a one horse town.

Augusta is a one horse town. Always has been always will be.

soccerguy74
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soccerguy74 12/04/08 - 08:56 am
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What many people don't

What many people don't realize is that even if you're not a hockey fan this hurts the economy of the city. So in essence it affects us all.

LostYankee72
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LostYankee72 12/04/08 - 10:05 am
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Actually I don't think this

Actually I don't think this will hurt the Augusta economy. From what I gather Troutman & the Burch's were losing a significant amount of money each year. In order to pay the bills I assumed they funnelled money from their other businesses to keep the Lynx afloat. So on the brightside those other business are now burden free to prosper.

HillGuy
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HillGuy 12/04/08 - 10:36 am
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How about getting events

How about getting events dpown at the civic center that Augustans actually wants to see.. Aside for a few displaced Yankees and Canadians, Hockey just does not have that much appeal in a Southern city like Augusta. If It did, the team would have drawn larger crowds and would still be operating. It's just like the people complaining about Soccer never really catching on in America.. it's just not a sport many Americans gravitate toward, and I doubt it ever will be, aside from kiddie leagues. How about do some local market research... find out what Augustans wants as far as entertainment and how much they are willing to pay for it and then provide it.

HillGuy
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HillGuy 12/04/08 - 10:46 am
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Considering the redneck/white

Considering the redneck/white trash nature of Augusta, why not schedule more professional wrestling matches at the arena? It seems those things used to always pack the place back in the 80s.

HuntsvilleHavocFan
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HuntsvilleHavocFan 02/10/09 - 12:00 am
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Hockey will work in

Hockey will work in Augusta....for the right PRICE. Welcome the SPHL with open arms next season!!!!!!!!!

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