SBD/Issue 135/Franchises

ECHL Club Goes Dormant Indefinitely; More Teams To Follow?

After 13 seasons, the ECHL Richmond Renegades suspended operations Monday "because of mounting financial losses" and having "no reason to think things would improve in the future," according to Jerry Lindquist of the RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, who noted the team will lose about $400,000 this year and lost more than $1.8M over the past three seasons. Renegades GM Paul Gamsby: "We can't make it happen." While the team's ownership group, Richmond Sports Partners LLC, asked the ECHL for a voluntary suspension that "would allow the team to return at a later date," the cost to remain inactive "is about $100,000 a year." Lindquist wrote the Renegades are "likely to be the first of several ECHL franchises to close the doors in a season that a depressed economy and failing attendance have taken their toll." The ECHL BOG is expected "to receive several requests to go dormant. It's no secret a number of teams are financially unstable and must either sell, relocate or go under." Sources said that "only a handful of the league's 27 teams is expected to make money this year" (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 4/1). In a separate piece, Lindquist noted Richmond Coliseum Manager Larry Wilson has "started looking for a replacement for" the franchise, "although that could mean something that doesn't require ice." Lindquist added another ECHL franchise "could move here," while a new ACHL team is also a possibility (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 4/1).

STATE OF AFFAIRS: In Richmond, Paul Woody: "Minor-league sports are a tough sell here. The population base is relatively small, and the competition for a family's entertainment dollar and time is fierce. ... All this should be a cautionary tale for anyone thinking of bringing another minor-league hockey franchise to Richmond. It seems that with effective marketing and just a little bit of luck, the ink in the financial ledger will be in the black. ... [But] be forewarned. Some of Richmond's wealthiest families and smartest businessmen have tried. It doesn't work" (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 4/2).

STAYING PUT? In Augusta, Rob Mueller reported ECHL Lynx Minority Owners Pete Budwick and Asa Daniels "have assembled a local group that has made a bid to take over controlling interest of the team." The group has made "a fair and substantial offer" to buy remaining shares of the team from Majority Owner Peter Gillespie and his investors (AUGUSTA CHRONICLE, 4/1).

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ECHL, Franchises, Hockey

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