After a rocky inaugural season, the Augusta Groove will not return in 2010.
Team co-owner Gary Perry confirmed Monday that the minor league basketball team has shut down for good. Perry said he has moved away from the ownership part of the game to take a position with a new league.
"Augusta is a nice place, and I think basketball can work there," he said. "But it didn't work for us."
Perry, who has accepted a front office position with the newly formed Continental Basketball League as the director of basketball operations, said poor attendance and lack of sponsorship money proved to be the Groove's undoing. The team opened to a crowd of about 1,800 fans in its home opener Jan. 3 at Richmond Academy's gym, but attendance dwindled to well below 500 by the time the Groove wrapped up the season with a 10-10 overall record in the Premier Basketball League.
"We got a lot of promises from a lot of people in this city, but they never came through," Perry said. "It seems like you get a lot of talk (in Augusta), but when it's time to do something everybody disappears."
The Groove's season was marred by controversy when disgruntled players accused ownership of failing to pay their salaries for some games played, including leading scorer A.J. Millien, who was released by the team three days after publicly questioning the team's financial stability.
Several businesses in the Augusta area also came forward during and after the season, accusing the team of bouncing checks and accumulating past due bills. Perry said the team's legal issues are still being worked out.
"That takes time," he said.
The Groove became the Augusta area's third failed minor league team in two years. The Aiken Foxhounds independent baseball team shut down just before the 2008 season was scheduled to begin, and the Augusta Lynx hockey team folded two months into the season in December. The Augusta Colts indoor football team suspended play for the 2009 season but still intends to field a team in 2010.
Reach Billy Byler at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.