Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Cudas Won't Play Next Season; Venue Woes Hit the Hockey Club

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Cudas Won't Play Next Season; Venue Woes Hit the Hockey Club

Article excerpt


The Jacksonville Barracudas announced Wednesday that they have requested a one-year suspension of operations from the Southern Professional Hockey League.

Majority owners Steve and Janet Croskrey expressed their intent to the league Monday, and the team's office has been closed, according to a news release from the Barracudas.

Gilles Richard, the Barracudas' president and general manager, said the request was made this week because the league will begin scheduling soon and the team doesn't have a lease agreement with a venue. He said the request likely will be addressed at the league meetings in June, but if it's rejected, the franchise will be terminated.

"It is a day we hoped would never come," Steve Croskrey said in the release. "Unfortunately, the lack of a suitable venue for SPHL hockey in North Florida was too high an obstacle to overcome."

The Barracudas played in the 16,000-seat Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena for three seasons, but the venue's proposed lease renewal raised the cost out of the team's price range. The Barracudas moved to 1,200-seat Jacksonville Ice for the 2007-08 season, but Richard said attempting to run a professional hockey team in a public-recreation rink was no longer feasible.

"It's very frustrating to go from the, I'd guess you'd call it the Cadillac or the Rolls-Royce of arenas here in the Southern Professional Hockey League, to Jax Ice," said Cliff Tice, president of the Barracudas' booster club. "Nothing against the folks at Jax Ice. They were accommodating to us, and we made due in there. But just to switch gears like that was really frustrating.

"It was a downward spiral after [the Barracudas lost the arena]. They tried their hearts out for it, and sadly, things just didn't work out."

Richard said he recently spoke with Robin Timothy, assistant GM for the arena, to see if a new deal could be worked out. But Timothy told him the money the arena saves on utility bills and changeover costs from not having the ice is almost more than the profit the team might offer.

Richard had hoped to sell the arena on the idea that the Barracudas could bring in more fans than they did before. …

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