As assistant sports editor David Henry reported in today's editions, the Amarillo Gorillas of the Central Hockey League are packing their bags. A news conference to announce the move is formally scheduled for this afternoon.
The Gorillas have struggled on and off the ice for several seasons. Unlike the other two minor league teams in the city -- the football Venon and the baseball Dillas -- they have not had the run of success as the other two. Plus, the Gorillas season coincides with a busy time and more competition for a sports fans dollar.
The Gorillas were probably losing money like it was being sucked through a vacuum. Amarillo finished last in the CHL in attendance in the last two seasons, averaging just 1,761 this last season.
They were losing too, finishing 21-34-9 last year, last in the Southern Conference. The last winning season was in 2006-2007 at 32-28-4.
Ticket prices were probably in line with other CHL franchises. And similiar in cost to the Venom.. Yet there are are so many games, fans are asked to pony up a price that would make them think twice about going for frankly an inferior product.
The Gorillas lasted eight seasons. Before that, professional hockey returned in 1996 in the form of the Rattlers. It was the first time Amarillo had hockey since the 1970s.
In its place will be a young developmental league out of the North American Hockey League. Players will range from 16 to 22. Players aren't paid. It's a 19-team league with 58 games.
Last year the season ran from September, which is the start of football season here, to April. I've got my doubts if this will make it either.