Lively Tales About Dead Teams

1996-2008 Austin Ice Bats

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Austin Ice Bats vs. Waco Wizards. December 27, 1996Western Professional Hockey League (1996-2001)
Central Hockey League (2001-2008)

Born: 1996 – WPHL founding franchise.
Died: May 6, 2008 – The Ice Bats cease operations.

Arenas:

Team Colors:

Owners:

 

The Austin Ice Bats were a minor league hockey team that skated for twelve seasons in Texas’ capital city.  The Ice Bats derived their name from the famed colony of 3.5 million of free-tailed bats that live under Austin’s Congress Avenue bridge.

The club was one of six original franchises in the Western Professional Hockey League in 1996. All of the league’s original franchises were in Texas and New Mexico, though expansion would eventually stretch the WPHL into Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.  Austin was a solid box office hit in the early years, with the Ice Bats leading the WPHL in attendance during the inaugural season of 1996-97 with 6,200 fans per game.

The Ice Bats original GM & Head Coach (and part owner) was former NHL All-Star Blaine Stoughton. Along with Hall-of-Famer Bobby Hull, Stoughton was one of only two men to have a 50-goal season in both the NHL and the rival World Hockey Association.

But the Ice Bats were never known for their on-ice accomplishments.  The level of play was several notches below the top minor hockey leagues.  Despite two finals series appearances, the team failed to win in a league title either in the WPHL or in the Central Hockey League, after a 2001 merger saw the WPHL absorbed into the larger CHL. Instead, the team established a reputation built on classic minor league hucksterism, including promotions such as “Guaranteed Fight Night”.

Arena problems eventually doomed the team. The box office novelty wore off and crowds dwindled at the Travis County Exposition Center, a remote farm show arena nicknamed “The Bat Cave” by local hockey fans. Successive generations of Ice Bats investors pushed for a new arena development in downtown Austin or in nearby Cedar Park without success. In 2006 the Ice Bats moved to Chapparal Ice Arena, a tiny 2,000-seat rink next to a lingerie shop on Interstate 35.  Crowds fell to fewer than 1,000 fans a game at Chap Ice.

Cedar Park finally approved a new $55 million arena, set to open in 2009. But instead of the Ice Bats, the Cedar Park Center would play host to the Texas Stars, the new top farm club of the NHL’s Dallas Stars. With the looming arrival of the Stars, the Ice Bats went dark in May 2008. The Ice Bats franchise continued to exist as an inactive member of the CHL for a time but nothing ever came of this and the team effectively went out of business as of the spring of 2008. The Central Hockey League folded in 2014.

The Ice Bats were the subject of the 2003 book Zamboni Rodeo by Texas Monthly writer Jason Cohen. (Cohen’s original 1997 article on the team is also in the Links section below).  Zamboni Rodeo remains available on Amazon.

 

==Austin Ice Bats Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Date Opponent Score Program Other

1996-97

1996-97 12/27/1996 vs. Waco Wizards ?? Program Game Notes

 

==Links==

The Ice Bats Cometh“, Jason Cohen, Texas Monthly, February 1997
Central Hockey League Programs
Western Professional Hockey League Programs

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1926-1994 Springfield Indians

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1977-78 Springfield IndiansCanadian-American Hockey League (1926-1933 & 1935-1936)
American Hockey League (1936-1942 & 1946-1951)
Eastern Hockey League (1951-1953)
Quebec Hockey League (1953-1954)
American Hockey League (1954-1967 & 1975-1994)

Born: 1926 – Can-Am League founding franchise.
Died: 1994 – The Indians relocate to Worcester, MA.

Arenas:

Team Owners:

 

 

 

==Slideshow==

 

==Springfield Indians Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other

1959-60

1959-60 12/10/1959 vs. AHL All-Stars W 8-3 Program
1959-60 2/27/1960 vs. Rochester Americans ?? Program

1974-75

1974-75 4/18/1975 @ Rochester Americans L 5-2 Program

1976-77

1976-77 3/9/1977 vs. Rhode Island Reds L 5-2 Program

1977-78

1977-78 11/2/1977 @ Broome Dusters W 5-4 Program
1977-78 3/26/1978 @ Maine Mariners L 5-2 Program

1978-79

1978-79 1/10/1979 @ Maine Mariners L 4-1 Program

1979-80

1979-80 12/15/1979 vs. Nova Scotia Voyageurs ?? Program
1979-80 1/9/1980 @ Maine Mariners L 5-1 Program
1979-80 2/15/1980 @ Adirondack Red Wings W 6-2 Program

1980-81

1980-81 11/14/1980 vs. Nova Scotia Voyageurs L 5-4 Program
1980-81 12/20/1980 vs. New Brunswick Hawks ?? Program
1980-81 4/1/1981  @ Hershey Bears L 6-4 Program
1980-81 4/8/1981 @ Maine Mariners L 3-1 Program

1983-84

1983-84 3/27/1984 @ St. Catharines Saints L 8-5 Program

1984-85

1984-85 11/9/1984 vs. Hershey Bears W 7-6 (OT) Program
1984-85 2/3/1985 @ Maine Mariners ?? Program
1984-85 2/10/1985  @ St. Catharine's Saints ?? Program

1986-87

1986-87 3/19/1987 @ Fredericton Express  L 5-4 Program

1988-89

1988-89 3/11/1989 @ Maine Mariners ?? Program

1993-94

1993-94 4/6/1994 @ Hershey Bears L 2-1 Program

 

==Links==

American Hockey League Media Guides

American Hockey League Programs

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May 12, 1972 – New York Nets vs. Indiana Pacers

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Jim Eakins Virginia SquiresNew York Nets vs. Indiana Pacers
ABA Championship Series, Game 3
May 12, 1972
Nassau Coliseum
Attendance: 15,241

 

The New York Islanders play their final regular season at the Nassau Coliseum tonight, the team’s home for the past 42 winters.  The Isles will play at least two playoff dates at the Coliseum this spring before moving to the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn next fall, but the eulogies for “Fort Never Lose” are already rolling in.  And they’ve been oddly sentimental, given how relentlessly the Coliseum has been kicked around in recent years, most famously by Gary Bettman, who told a Hofstra University audience in 2009:

“There is probably no worse Major League facility right now in North America than the Nassau Coliseum.”

The locals cheered.

But now that it’s losing the Islanders and the NHL forever, the Nassau Coliseum is enjoying something of a critical reappraisal. Grantland and ESPN ran lengthy “it’s a dump, but it’s our dump” eulogies.  George Vecsey at The Times, who covered the Isles’ 1980-1983 Stanley Cup dynasty, composed the most sincere and heartfelt farewell to the Coliseum, though “squat” was the most romantic sobriquet he chose to describe the arena’s aesthetic charms.

With all the column inches, you’d think the old barn was scheduled for demolition.  In fact, it’s just losing the NHL. The arena will be downsized, refurbished and revert to being a minor league building in the middle of nowhere. Which, in a sense, has been part of the building’s DNA since it opened in 1972.  Because although the Coliseum will always be inextricably linked with the Islanders and their early 80’s Cup winners, the building has proved an irresistible magnet for every “sport of the future” that desperately wanted to plant its flag in a place that would pass for New York.

"Squat"

Of all the teams that made a home at the Nassau Coliseum over the years, only the arena’s two original tenants way back in 1972 are still around.  The New York Nets of the American Basketball Association made the championship series in 1972 after moving over from the tiny Island Garden in West Hempstead late in the season.  Today’s program (top right) is from Game 3 of the 1972 ABA Championship Series against the Indiana Pacers, which was the first championship sporting event in the building.  The turnout of 15,241 fans was the largest postseason crowd in ABA history to that point.  But despite 44 points from the Nets’ top attraction Rick Barry, the Pacers took control of the series with a 114-108 win.  Indiana rookie George McGinniss had 30 points and 20 boards to upstage Barry.  The Pacers went on to win the series in six games.

The Islanders themselves arrived a few months later, but only after another unproven start-up spooked the NHL into a hasty pre-emptive expansion.  A proposed hockey club called the New York Raiders had their sights set on the Coliseum for the debut season of the rebel World Hockey Association in fall of 1972.  The Islanders got the lease instead, dooming the WHA’s efforts in New York to repeated disasters at the more expensive Madison Square Garden.

The Nets and the Islanders haven’t shared an arena since the basketball team decamped for New Jersey in 1977. This October they will reunite in Brooklyn at the Barclay’s Center.  As for the rest of the franchises that set up shop at Nassau Coliseum – and there are a bunch – they are long, long gone…

  • Billie Jean King headlined the New York Sets, a co-ed team tennis promotion that played 20-odd dates a summer at the Coliseum from 1974 until 1976.
  • Box lacrosse tried to gain a foothold at the Coliseum over and over again, starting with the Long Island Tomahawks (1975).  The New York Saints (1989-2003) hung in for 14 years, the longest tenancy of any team besides the Isles. But the New York Titans (2007) were yet another One-Year Wonder to vanish from the Coliseum after just a few months of play.
  • While the Islanders were winning four straight Stanley Cups from 1980 to 1983, there were actually two dynasties at the Coliseum. The New York Arrows won the first four championship of the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) from 1979 to 1982, led by a pair of flashy Yugoslav forwards, Branko Segota and Steve Zungul.  The Arrows went bankrupt in 1984.
  • After the Arrows died, the MISL tried to get back into New York with an expansion team called the New York Express in 1986.  After a public stock offering flopped, the Express ran out of money and folded halfway through its debut season. One of the former Express owners is currently in federal prison after adopting a false identity to run venture capital scams.
  • Professional roller hockey arrived in 1996 with the formation of the Long Island Jawz. Professional roller hockey also departed in 1996.
  • Islanders owner Charles Wang also owned the New York Dragons of the Arena Football League from 2001 to 2008. The Dragons offered a severe cautionary tale for novice sports investors. In July 2008, Wang sold the Dragons to Steve Silva for $12 million. Five months later, league investors suffered a crisis of confidence and shut down the league after 22 seasons.  Silva never got to see his team play a down.

Numerous reports have it that the Nassau Coliseum is looking for an American Hockey League club to replace the Islanders on Long Island.  The Bridgeport Sound Tigers have been rumored to be that team for several years now. So the Fun While It Lasted hijinks in Uniondale are likely far from over.

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Written by andycrossley

April 12th, 2015 at 2:18 am

1976 Tacoma Tides

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Tacoma TidesAmerican Soccer League (1976)

Born: 1976 – ASL expansion franchise.
Died: November 1976 – The Tides cease operations.

Stadium: Cheney Stadium

Team Colors:

Owner: Booth Gardner & Tacoma Baseball, Inc.

 

The Tacoma Tides were a One-Year Wonder that competed in the American Soccer League in the summer of 1976.  The lower-division soccer club was jointly owned by Booth Gardner, a future Governor of the state of Washington, and the operators of the Tacoma Twins minor league baseball team.  The Tides shared Cheney Stadium, the city’s baseball field, with the Twins.

The Tides were a good side in their only year of action.  The team finished 10-6-5 and earned a playoff spot, losing to th eventual champion Los Angeles Skyhawks in the semi-final match.  English import David Chadwick was the Tides’ leading scorer with 9 goals and 8 assists.  Future U.S. National Team coach Bruce Arena was the Tides’ second string goalkeeper, but he bulk of the net duties were handled by lower division warhorse Jamil Canal.

The Tides lost a reported $100,000, which was deemed unacceptable and the club was shuttered in November 1976.

 

==Links==

American Soccer League Media Guides

American Soccer League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

April 9th, 2015 at 12:36 am

1977 Santa Barbara Condors

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Santa Barbara CondorsAmerican Soccer League (1977)

Born: 1977 – ASL expansion franchise.
Died: July 1977 – The Condors fold in midseason.

Stadium: Valley Stadium

Team Colors:

Owner:

 

The Santa Barbara Condors were a financially bereft 2nd division American soccer club that folded after playing just a dozen games in the summer of 1977.  During their brief run, the Condors played home games at Valley Stadium, a high school field in Goleta, California.

Former Liverpool captain Ron Yeats was the Condors’ player-coach.  The owners stopped paying the team almost immediately and bailed on the club.  On July 1, 1977, after playing without pay for nearly two months, Condors players went out on strike, refusing to play a pair of weekend games against the Los Angeles Skyhawks.

American Soccer League officials were unable to find new investors for the club and the Condors folded with a 4-4-4 record.  The remaining 12 games on the club’s regular season scheduled were cancelled. Midseason failures were not unusual in the ASL and the Condors were one of numerous 2nd division clubs in the States who were unable to complete their schedules during the 1970’s.

 

==Links==

American Soccer League Media Guides

American Soccer League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

April 8th, 2015 at 12:50 pm