Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lagging Economy Suspends Hockey in Richmond

Hockey and Richmond, Va., may not sound like the merriest of combinations, but in a city where NASCAR and wrestling are key attractions, a minor league team was able to garner a small but loyal following.

That may be coming to an end, at least for the 2009-2010 season. The Richmond Renegades, a member of the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL), will suspend hockey operations after the 2009 season concludes.

"“This has been an extremely trying year for everybody financially,” stated Harvie. “We have our loyal fans and sponsors who continue to support hockey but unfortunately there are not enough of them to begin to pay the cost of operating a team. The economy has driven a spike into the heart of the leisure time market and fans have very hard choices to make with their money. Despite having an exciting team currently in second place, fans simply cannot afford to come to games on a regular basis. It used to be fans would come at least once a week and now they’re lucky if they can afford to come once a month.”

The Renegades are just one of many businesses in the Richmond area that have succumbbed to the economy. The most notable of those businesses is Circuit City, which is near the end of its liquidation sales.

“The Richmond economy is what has forced us to step back and take a break. There have been an abnormally high number of companies and government agencies in Richmond who have run into financial problems. Every day we read about one more Richmond company in trouble. That has caused a ripple effect throughout the entire business community. As I have stated before, when our fans have to choose between buying health insurance, gas or hockey tickets, the choice is obvious.”

The Renegades have long been a staple in Richmond since their formation in 1971. They also have some ties to the Washington Capitals. Former Capital Rod Langway once played for the Renegades when current play-by-play announcer Craig Laughlin was a co-owner in 1995. Langway was also an assistant coach for the Renegades in 1997.

The Renegades started as an AHL team, known as the Robins, and went through various name and league changes throughout their existence. In 1976, the team became a member of the SHL and was known as the Wildcats. In 1979, they became the Rifles and members of the EHL. In 1991, the team adopted the Renegades moniker and joined the ECHL. In the 1994-1995 season, they won the ECHL's Championship, the Kelly Cup. In 2006, the Renegades joined the SPHL, where they currently play now.

While the Renegades' future is uncertain at the moment, there is a chance that the team might be able to take to the ice next season if there is an ownership change. Loyal fans will be pleased to know that there is a potential buyer in talks with the team.

“This gentleman is very financially set and has an excellent sports and marketing background. He would be a great fit for the Renegades and the fans,” noted Harvie. “We have spoken and will continue to discuss his possible involvement with the Renegades and should that happen it would mean that the team would not need to suspend at the end of the season; something that would excite everybody. I will keep you posted on the progress of these meetings and conversations.”

For more about the Renegades franchise check out these Web sites.
Richmond Renegades History


  1. Is it just me or does the talk of a potential buyer in the last paragraph sound familiar? ---"Something's afloat. This is on the QT, but I think they're gonna sell us.I can't name names, but let's just say that there's a senior citizen's community in a southern state that's in the market for a hockey team."

  2. I always love a good Slap Shot quote in the afternoon, thanks Tuvan :)


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