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05-14-2013, 04:44 PM
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Originally Posted by CShuckWangGoAway;65961815[B
]You guys aren't giving the SPHl enough credit[/B]. the league has improved every year, and when the CHL goes away, that will basically replace it. It won't be the AHL but either will be the ECHL.

You can count me as someone who doesn't give the SPHL a lot of credit. I'll give them this, they've carved out their niche market in the deep south and succeeded as developing into the "only" single A league where the Mid-Atlantic Hockey League, AAHL, EPHL, and assuredly the FHL have/will fail. I'm sure they have a cult following in a few of their markets particularly Knoxville, Fayetteville, and Huntsville.

That being said, I've watched from a distance as two clubs, JAX and now Augusta played games in practice rinks where 800-1100 fans could watch. Jacksonville was in the SPHL finals when they played their games in their practice facility. That wasn't a pre-season game, that was the SPHL finals. Augusta's mess finished today with them throwing in the towel and bowing out when they could have announced their withdrawl from this upcoming season 2 months ago. No negotiations have been taking place between the owners and the James Brown arena managment regarding the ice system for some time but yet they waited until the SPHL needed a definitive answer before announcing the obvious which 90% of the people in this forum could have figured out.

It speaks volumes about how the SPHL upper crust runs their league. Since 2005-06, Combs has publicly stated that his ideal vision for the SPHL is a 10-12 team loop based in the South East. For the last 3 summers, Combs has stated publicly that between 1-3 teams will be joining for the following season. This hasn't happened for the last two seasons and don't fool yourself into thinking that the plan all along was to poach Bloomington and Peoria from the CHL and AHL. This has completely fallen into their lap and it takes them significantly out of their footprint in the South.

They have had a lopsided conference of 9 teams now for 2-3 seasons and although SPHL owners claim that they want to grow the league slowly and with purpose with the right owners, I think that they would have taken on markets as far-fetched as Tupelo and Talahassee in order to give them an even number of teams had their been any type of ownership options in those markets.

Attendance in some of their better markets has dropped the last number of years and the ownership in one of their more stable markets (Columbus) publicly wondered if it was worth it to come back for another season. My understanding is that the Mississipi Surge organization owned by Tim Kerr is very much in flux trying to secure a semi-legitimate number of season tickets to dictate whether it is worth coming back for another season and were struggling mightily to secure a pretty low number of season tickets. Then there's Pensacola and the ongoing debacle with Escambia County on whether it's feasible to make necessary upgrades to the facility on a money losing operation. Enough money in the treasury? Probably. But if that's your most recent league champ and there are serious questions regarding their long-term viability, I think this also speaks volumes about the league right now.

In short, straying significantly outside your geographic footprint to add two markets with one almost certainly hoping for a 1 year stop gap before the ECHL (and more natural rivalries) also says something. So perhaps your right. I'm not giving the SPHL that much credit at the moment....

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