FHL In 2013-14? Nope.

As far as public developments go, there really isn’t a lot to report in the ongoing Trenton hockey saga.

In communications with the ECHL, it’s clear — in case it wasn’t to anyone else — that the Titans franchise is dead.  Just as the release said, they’ve ceased operations and no longer exist in the eyes of the league.  And, despite Titans management making it clear that they’d like to return in 2014-15, that ‘s exactly how the league should approach it.

There is no hold in Trenton for an ECHL team.  There is nothing preventing the Sun National Bank Center, which lost 36 guaranteed gates, from bringing in another team in another league.  That league, however, will not be the Federal Hockey League.

The A-level league, which has a strong footprint in the Northeast, told me today that there’s no interest in the Trenton facility.  The reasons are what you’d think they’d be; the building is too large and the costs would be prohibitive in their business model.

As far as the ECHL goes, there are two ways a team can return to Trenton at this point: Any ownership group can apply for an expansion franchise — and would subsequently have to pay the undisclosed franchise fee to do so — or can purchase an existing franchise and apply for relocation, with both scenarios needing to be approved by the league’s Board of Governors.

ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna’s comment that the Trenton market might be better off without hockey for a year or two was universally panned by what’s left of the Titans fan base…and, while I’m not sure I would have said that on the record…I don’t disagree with him.  It wasn’t working here.  Not now.  Mediocrity was acceptable, and like he also told me, while there was a small uptick in attendance, it wasn’t enough to sustain the franchise.

3,000 fans in a building that can hold over 8,000 for hockey became OK.  3,000 fans in a building that did hold over 8,000 for hockey on a routine basis in the early days of “Titans 1.0″ became OK.  Saying that it was 3,000 fans when it was actually substantially less became OK.

And until a group can come in and somehow completely change the culture of hockey in Trenton, that’s exactly what’s going to happen when and if a team returns to the capital city right now.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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8 Responses to “FHL In 2013-14? Nope.”

  1. BOB T Says:

    Well written and on point article as usual Mike….hit all pertinent points…bottom line, it’s gonna cost any NEW ownership group too much and too much risk to even think about putting a franchise back here..just isn’t going to happen if they crunch the numbers off of past performances here…this had a chance with the lockout, if done right, to succeed, I really believe that….but the marketing and the team was a rudderless ship, which resulted in no interest and no WINS……and that’s a deadly formula…
    Mike….excellent, excellent job on keeping all of us abreast of the goings on these past 2 years…I enjoyed and looked forward to your writings on the sport I love and have been around and involved in for 40 + years..You know your stuff…….GRAT JOB, THANKS!

  2. BOB T Says:

    *GREAT JOB…….LOL

  3. Bison54 Says:

    Good job, Mike, on keeping us up-to-date throughout the hockey seasons. I look forward to your (perhaps expanded) coverage of the Princeton University Tigers. I wonder what role the County played in all this. It sure as hell screwed up the parking. Sad thing is the fans are out there (Bertoli night and this season’s home opener), but the organization can’t seem to get them to come (marketing should have been much better). Sure, losing records don’t help, but there are lots of teams that have losing records, but also have dedicated fan bases. Food (although not the team’s fault) is not very good (except pasta dinner) and very expensive. I’m sure there are other reasons (which will probably never come to light) for the Titans’ failure. I feel bad for the players and coaches, who worked hard all the time. And, what a finish! 7-3 record in final 10 games (reaching the .500 level), with great wins over Reading, East Conf. powerhouse, and Cincinnati. Remember (forever) the Titans!

  4. Benni Hanna Says:

    Mike, I’ll echo the gratitude portrayed above for continuing the coverage. I realize it may seem like you’re spinning your wheels for nothing. However, know that there are a few fans who still appreciate your work in this continuing saga. While hockey in Trenton looks DOA at this point I’ll look forward to your stories, if and when they happen, going forward.

  5. Domish13 Says:

    Mike,

    I was in Reading yesterday and heard a rumor that the Phantoms may go to Trenton for one year if/until the arena in Allentown is completed. Did you hear anything about this?

  6. thunderbaseball Says:

    Appreciate everyone’s kind words…

    I think everyone’s heard the Phantoms rumors…highly doubt that happens, outside of maybe a situation similar to what you’ve seen in Atlantic City, where a team will come in for a handful of games but nowhere near the full slate. But I could be wrong…

  7. MB Says:

    So what was different in the early days of “Titans 1.0″ that made the franchise so successful? Why couldn’t some of the same successful things be done again?

    Mike, I’ll add my thanks for keeping us informed.

  8. BOB T Says:

    3 + weeks…any callbacks of the many calls about the poor souls who paid for their season tickets for 13-14???……”NOPE”

    3+ weeks….any ‘game worn” jerseys that were promised to those who re-upped for 13-14???…….”NOPE”

    3 + weeks…any calls about refunding the $20 shipping, on top of what my friend paid for his season tickets, for the “game worn” jersey that the TITANS asked for to ship that jersey???….”NOPE”

    “CHECKS IN THE MAIL” the mantra of the now DEFUNCT Titans Mgmnt…I feel for those of you who did re-up, GOOD LUCK to you all, ’cause looks like you’re gonna need it…..

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