Lively Tales About Dead Teams

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1999-2002 Mississippi Fire Dogs

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Mississippi Fire DogsIndoor Professional Football League (1999-2000)
National Indoor Football League (2001-2002)

Born: 1999
Died: Postseason 2002 – The Fire Dogs cease operations

Arena: Mississippi Coast Coliseum

Team Colors:



The Mississippi Fire Dogs were an obscure indoor football outfit that played four seasons in the Gulf Coast city of Biloxi from 1999 through 2002.  Starting in the late 1990’s, a rash of low-budget knockoffs of the pioneering Arena Football League sprang up around the country.  These leagues – often derisively referred to as “ankle biters” by diehard AFL fans – typically set up shop in small Midwestern and Southern cities with underutilized civic centers.  And they typically didn’t last very long.

In this sense, the Fire Dogs were a pretty typical ankle-biter entry.  The franchise started out in 1999 in the Indoor Professional Football League (1999-2001), which featured teams in the Deep South and Pacific Northwest.  After two seasons, the Fire Dogs ditched the struggling IPFL for the equally anonymous National Indoor Football League (2001-2007).

There were a couple of intriguing names associated with the Fire Dogs. During the team’s first two seasons in the IPFL, the General Manager, Head Coach and starting quarterback was former NFL quarterback John Fourcade.

The other “celebrity” associated with the Fire Dogs was Irving Favre, father of Green Bay Packers All-Pro quarterback Brett Favre.  The elder Favre was a minority owner in the club.  He also succeeded Fourcade as Head Coach when the franchise jumped to the National Indoor Football League in 2001.

The Fire Dogs won two league titles during their short life-span, conquering the IPFL (under Fourcade) in 2000 and the NIFL (under Favre) in 2001.  The team went out of business following the 2002 season.


Written by AC

August 10th, 2014 at 2:43 am

1997-1999 Corpus Christi Sharks

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Southwest Basketball League (1997-1999)

Born: October 16, 1997 – SWBL founding franchise.
Died: 1999 – The Sharks relocate to Sugarland, Texas.


Team Colors:

Owner: Charles E. Johnson


The Corpus Christi Sharks were part of an obscure, fly-by-night operation called the Southwest Basketball League which operated in Texas and Louisiana for parts of four seasons between 1997 and 2001.  The SWBL was introduced to the press and the public just three weeks before tip off of the first game in November 1997, leaving no time for the six founding clubs to make any sort of impact in their communities.

The Sharks were owned by league founder and Commissioner Charles Johnson, a former NBA agent. The league intended to play a 40-game schedule in 1997-98, but Johnson shut it down after just 14 games amidst a flurry of bounced paychecks in late December 1997.  The Sharks were the best team in the league at the time with an 11-3 record, but few would have noticed.  The team averaged just over 1,000 fans at Memorial Coliseum, which was the best figure in the league.

Surprisingly, the Sharks and the league regrouped for a second season in early 1999.  The Sharks downgraded from the city-owned Memorial Coliseum to a local high school gymnasium.  One of Charles Johnson’s former clients, the former Houston Rockets guard Robert Reid, coached the Sharks during their second and final season.  Reid would suit up for the team’s final home game at age 43 and score 4 points.  Crowds dwindled to little more than friends and family at Ray High School and the Sharks quietly moved to Sugarland, Texas prior to the Southwest Basketball League’s third season in the winter of 1999-00.

The SWBL teetered along in obscurity until 2001 and then disappeared.



1997-98 Corpus Christi Sharks Program


2013 Baltimore Bombers


North American Lacrosse League (2013)

Born: August 2012 – NALL expansion franchise.
Died: March 8, 2013 – The Bombers cease operations in midseason.

Arena: Du Burns Arena

Team Colors:

Owner: Hunter Francis


The Baltimore Bombers were a doomed entry in the low-rent North American Lacrosse League (2012-2013), which briefly existed as a destination of last resort for box lacrosse players looking for winter-time employment outside of the big-budget National Lacrosse League.  Its unlikely that many Baltimore residents were aware of the Bombers, who existed for only two months at tiny Du Burns Arena, a 650-seat venue that also hosted a women’s roller derby team and meetings of a local Christian Church.

The Bombers lasted only seven games in the NALL, a four-team league which also featured teams in Kentucky, Rhode Island and suburban Boston.  The league fell apart pretty quickly and the Bombers shut down after playing only seven games, folding with a 4-3 record on March 8, 2013.  The NALL itself folded later that spring.



Bombers vs. Rhode Island Kingfish at Du Burns Arena, winter 2013.





Written by AC

January 21st, 2014 at 3:22 am

1993-2004 Roanoke Express

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East Coast Hockey League (1993-2004)

Born: May 6, 1993 – ECHL expansion franchise.
Died: July 20, 2004 – The ECHL terminates the Express franchise.

Arena: Roanoke Civic Center (8,614)

Team Colors: Forest Green, Fire Red, Black & White




The Roanoke Express were a mid-level minor league hockey club in the East Coast Hockey League for nine seasons from 1994 to 2003.  The Express followed close on the heels of a series of failed Roanoke-area clubs of the mid-80’s to early 90’s, including the Lancers, Rebels and Rampage, all of which played in a peculiar little building called the LancerLot in nearby Vinton.  A blizzard in March 1993 caved in the LancerLot roof during a Roanoke Valley Rampage home game, marking the death knell of both team and the LancerLot as a pro hockey venue.

The ECHL granted an expansion franchise to a group led by trucking entrepreneur John Gagnon and Pierre Paiement, a former player from the 1970’s Roanoke Valley Rebels of the Eastern Hockey League.  Unlike the Valley’s recent string of failed clubs, Gagnon and Paiement’s would play at the downtown Roanoke Civic Center, which hadn’t hosted pro hockey since the 1970’s but offered a far more conventional and professional setting than the destroyed LancerLot.

The Express had a strong team throughout the 1990’s under coaches Frank Anzalone and Scott Gordon.  The team’s goaltending was especially strong thanks to the tandem of NHL’s veterans Daniel Berthiaume (pictured on program, above right) and Dave Gagnon.  The Express won three straight division titles from 1998 to 2000, but the team never progressed far in the playoffs.

The club fell on hard times in the early 2000’s.  Ownership turned over a couple of times and the second generation of hockey investors over-extended themselves by getting involved with the city’s money losing Arena Football 2 team, the Roanoke Steam.  A pair of front office officials were indicted for embezzlement fro the team, though charges were later dismissed.  The team began losing and attendance dipped from a mid-1990’s high of nearly 5,700 per game to fewer than 3,000 a night.  In July 2004 the ECHL terminated the franchise after the team’s final investor group exhausted its resources and no new buyers could be found.


Goaltender Daniel Berthiaume settled near Roanoke after his hockey career was over and has operated a fishing charter on Smith Mountain Lake for over a decade.  Check him out at




Go Bass Fishing with Daniel Berthiaume

East Coast Hockey League Media Guides

East Coast Hockey League Programs


2006-2009 Richmond Renegades

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Southern Professional Hockey League (2006-2009)

Born: April 25, 2006 – SPHL expansion franchise.
March 26, 2009 – The Renegades cease operations.

Arena: Richmond Coliseum

Team Colors: Royal Blue & Gold

Owner: Allan Harvie et al.


The 2006-2009 edition of the Richmond Renegades was a re-boot of the city’s former East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) Renegades franchise, which played from 1990-2003.  The new Renegades played in the Southern Professional Hockey League, a low-level professional loop with franchises in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.  The lower-budget SPHL placed teams in numerous Southeastern cities where ECHL franchises had previously failed. Renegades owner Allan Harvie was also the founder of the original Renegades franchise in the ECHL in 1990.

The Renegades came into the Richmond Coliseum on the heels of the departing Richmond RiverDogs of the United Hockey League, who left town at the end of the 2005-06 season to move to Chicago.

During the Renegades first season in 2006-07, the team was coached by 73-year old minor league hockey legend John Brophy.  Brophy was reportedly the model for Paul Newman’s Reggie Dunlap character in the movie Slap Shot.  Brophy coached the Renegades for one season and this appears to have been the final coaching post of his one-of-a-kind career (Brophy is now 80 years old).  He finished with 1,027 coaching wins at all levels from the low level minors to the World Hockey Association and the National Hockey League.  Brophy’s win total ranks second all-time in the professional ranks to the great Scotty Bowman.

The Renegades claimed average attendance of between 3,000 and 4,000 fans per season over three years from 2006 to 2009.  In March 2009, founder Allan Harvie announced the team would shut down after three seasons due to lagging sponsorship and ticket sales and lack of interest from new investors.


Written by AC

November 28th, 2013 at 4:29 am