Hockey to remain dormant in Augusta

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 1:41 PM
Last updated 11:28 PM
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Hopes of minor league hockey returning to Augusta this fall appear to have faded for good.

Southern Professional Hockey League commissioner Jim Combs said the league, which has announced the expansion of as many as three new teams in other Southeastern cities for the 2009-10 season, was considering the Augusta market for an expansion team.

“We haven’t been able to secure an ownership group for Augusta,” Combs said. “We’re going to wait at least a year.”

Augusta’s hockey community spent a long winter without a team after the ECHL’s Augusta Lynx folded in December. The most diehard hockey fans, who still keep a professional hockey booster club going with monthly meetings and paid dues, were looking to the SPHL as a possible hockey savior in Augusta.

The SPHL has spent the spring hinting at possible expansion to Augusta. The league has introduced new teams in Biloxi, Miss. and Lafayette, La., over the past two months and is actively exploring the Pensacola, Fla., market for a third expansion team. Another SPHL team in Winston-Salem, N.C. shut down after the 2008-09 season, and team owner Robert Kerzner announced his intentions to move the team to a new market.

Combs said Augusta was considered an option for the Winston-Salem team’s relocation, but it won’t happen this year.

“(Augusta) came up as a possibility,” he said. “But there’s no need to try to jump back in right after what happened there this past year. The team didn’t exactly leave on the best note.”

The Augusta Lynx shut down early in the 2008-09 season, with only 18 games played in its scheduled 72-game season. Season ticket holders paid for 36 homes games but only seven were played. At least five season ticket holders have sued the Group Operating Augusta Lynx, consisting of owners Dan Troutman, Robert Burch and Jan Hodges Burch, looking for reimbursement.

The Lynx’s ugly, mid-season collapse, the first in the 21-year history of the ECHL, was one of at least four such incidents involving local minor league teams over the past two years. The Aiken Foxhounds and Augusta Colts both cancelled their second seasons after rocky first years. The Augusta Groove played its first year of minor league basketball this spring but, after at least three local business and several players and staff claimed to receive bounced checks from the team, co-owner Gary Perry has yet to confirm that the team will be back next year.

Another minor league basketball team, the Augusta Raging River, was in business long enough to hire a coach, hold tryouts and announce a roster this spring, but the team shut down earlier this month before playing its first game.

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me too
me too 05/19/09 - 01:54 pm
I know I'm in the minority as

I know I'm in the minority as I'd like to see hockey return to Augusta. I'll keep my hopes up for next year.

whyohwhy 05/19/09 - 02:03 pm
I'm in the minority too...and

I'm in the minority too...and I miss my hockey!

hockeymann 05/19/09 - 04:26 pm
I miss hockey very much. I'd

I miss hockey very much. I'd be willing to buy my tickets again, despite the theft by GOAL of 29 games. Its too bad we not only got those stolen from us, now we can't get a team back here due
to GOAL's actions in leaving just after collecting our season ticket monies.

I hope our fans will let the GOAL folks know, if they see them in
public, how much they've hurt the situation here, even beyond just those 29 stolen games.

Also, please don't compare other failures with so-called "pro"
basketball, and arena football, with the Lynx failing. These
other leagues weren't even close to the quality of professional
hockey when it was here.

blues550 05/19/09 - 04:39 pm
Thanks, Dan.

Thanks, Dan.

Nero 05/19/09 - 05:26 pm
Sign me up to the minority

Sign me up to the minority list as well. Oh well, I know who won't be building my next house.....

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