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Atlanta Thrashers fans finding it difficult to get season ticket refunds for lost franchise

Jul 17, 2011, 4:57 PM EST

Atlanta Thrashers Hockey AP

Life’s been rough enough this summer for hockey fans in Atlanta. They’re without a team now that the Thrashers have been bought by True North and moved to Winnipeg and now the former ownership, Atlanta Spirit Group, is continuing to find ways to make life miserable for them.

While many fans in Atlanta bought season tickets in hopes that the talk of the team being bought and moved was just talk, that talk proved to be true and Atlanta Spirit is taking their sweet time in paying those trusting fans back.

WSBTV.com’s Jim Strickland out of Atlanta reports that many fans are having a hard time getting refunds for their season ticket deposits and payments from Atlanta Spirit. Salt in the wounds is not what these displaced hockey fans needed on top of the pain of losing a team, but the people representing the Thrashers ticket sales team aren’t helping matters either.

“It’s just been one excuse after another. Where’s my money at? Where’s my refund? It’s been well over a month from the time it was guaranteed to be sent back to me,” complained fan Brad Lyons.

Strickland called Lyons’ ticket representative. James Desmond refused comment and hung up the phone.

Strickland called back several times and got voicemail from several team officials.

“I was told, others have had this problem,” said Lyons. A second fan told Strickland that he’s still waiting for $3,700.

Lyons owed less than $200.

“I don’t care. It’s my money,” he said.

The upside to this story is that apparently the attention paid by the TV station is going to get these fans their money back sooner, but that’s how Atlanta Spirit has operated in this thing all along. They’ve operated poorly thanks to no one taking notice of what they were doing and then upon being called out, they snap into action to do what’s right.

Apparently all Atlanta Spirit needed to do a good job running a team was to have people paying attention to their mismanagement and general disarray in trying to run a franchise. Too little, too late for that now as the Thrashers are now the Jets and Atlanta Spirit can now exist in infamy as one of the worst ownership groups to call the NHL home.

We can just hope that they’ll stop jerking around other fans who deserve to get their money back efficiently. It’s the least they could do given that they did little to nothing to help the Thrashers establish a winning team or finding other potential owners to keep the team in Atlanta.

  1. govtminion - Jul 17, 2011 at 6:24 PM

    Atlanta fans deserved a hell of a lot better than this group of jagoffs. Gary Bettman should be embarrassed to have ever associated one of his franchises with a group that has a record of mismanagement and untruthfulness as Atlanta Spirit.

    • tommytd - Jul 18, 2011 at 6:18 AM

      Gary Mettman is part of the problem. For the good of the game, he should step aside.

  2. andyreidisfat - Jul 18, 2011 at 7:10 AM

    I agree it is time for new leadership in the NHL. But also and this is no offense to Atlanta but they never should have had a Hockey team anyway. I mean did anyone do a demographic check before moving a ICE HOCKEY TEAM into ATLANTA.

    Lets be real the city is like 75% black. Not exactly hockeys fan base. No offense to the fans of Hockey in Atlanta both black and white, but lets be real here. This team was never going to work from start. Not to mention maybe the worst owners in the history of the sport.

    I love the move to the PEg as they have always deserved a team. I think the next step for the NHL subtraction. And its starts in Phoenix and als Florida. There is just no reason for these areas to have hockey teams. Neither team is supported well and for the most neither team has been very good for years. I am not even opposed to moving these teams if you want to keep them but please move them. I hear Hartford is nice in the winter if you want to keep fixxing past mistakes

    • hystoracle - Jul 18, 2011 at 10:32 AM

      BY Florida – I hope you mean Miami ‘stinkin’ Panthers. If being bad means you get moved then Edmonton should be on the block they haven’t been good for a while either.

      Phoenix is in turmoil and could feasibly be moved. Though they did make the playoffs last season. (which goes against your “haven’t been good in years” arguement).

      “Lets be real the city is like 75% black. Not exactly hockeys fan base.” and this statement is just blatant racism.

      • hockeyfan1701 - Jul 18, 2011 at 12:24 PM

        Fine line between racism and the truth…….

      • tommytd - Jul 18, 2011 at 8:25 PM

        Who plays hockey in the desert anyway???? Move ‘em out and set them up in a cold weather climate.

      • icelovinbrotha215 - Jul 21, 2011 at 11:45 AM

        Idk if that quantifies as a racist statement? Skewed statement? Most likely. But the truth is that ice hockey and blacks is not as common as some other sports. And I speak from experience. I am first Gen Nigerian American and we (2 younger brothers and I) played club hockey for many years. We didn’t start playing til we moved out of the city and moved to the ‘burbs. Hockey wasn’t available to the intercity kids. Too expensive. Consider a ‘white’ sport. Lived 5 mins from a rink and we didn’t even know. But now things are getting better. Mr. Ed Snider has his ‘Ed Snider Youth Organization’ that helps kids that were in my situation to play hockey for free. Idk if Atlanta has such a thing. I know its more of a football town. Either way, ATL didn’t have enough of a fanbase black or white.

  3. gots1 - Jul 18, 2011 at 12:53 PM

    hahahahahahaha

  4. pittsportsfan - Jul 19, 2011 at 2:42 AM

    There was once a time when people asked, “who would ever play hockey in California?”

  5. bradlyons75 - Jul 19, 2011 at 6:51 AM

    andyreidisfat:

    I am the BRAD LYONS that is referred to in the comments here—-and I know the REAL situation, however you do not. Why? For starters Atlanta is more than just the downtown city, there are NUMEROUS cities and towns in the metro area. In fact most of those down here are not originally from Atlanta, such as myself—a displaced Red Wings fan that moved here from Michigan. The fact is that the ASG has completely written the book about how NOT to run a sports franchise—- They didn’t buy the Thrashers because they wanted them, thy bought them as part of the package deal to purchase an NBA franchise. Are you aware they are now trying to sell off the Hawks? Are you aware that only a year after purchasing the teams they divided and started the process of filing suit against each other in the ownership group? Are you aware that the hockey team DID get fan support down here—the problem has 100% been the ownership support and backing.

    Let me ask you this—- you go to a nice restaurant and the service is bad, the food is bad, etc. You think “well maybe they had a bad night” but you go back, and the same thing happens. When this happens every time you go to that restaurant you start to think HEY, this isn’t the best place to spend my money. Well the owner of the restaurant then blames the customers, that it’s their fault—— the reality is the food is bad, the service is bad, and you are being told information that isn’t true. This is what has happened is that the ownership and those OUTSIDE the reality think it had to do with a lack of fan support.

    Wait and see—-watch what happens with the Atlanta Hawks! They are REQUIRED to stay in Atlanta for several more years due to bond sales, so any new owners are not allowed to move them. But why are they trying to sell the Hawks? BECAUSE THIS OWNERSHIP GROUP HAS DONE NOTHING BUT LOSE MONEY FROM DAY ONE BECAUSE THEY DON’T KNOW HOW TO OPERATE A SPORTS FRANCHISE. At the end of the day corporate ownership rarely works, which is exactly what transpired with the ASG. THE FACT IS—-NHL HOCKEY WORKS IN ATLANTA, but you need an owner that can properly run a franchise.

    When it came to getting my money back—I was told line after line after line, excuse after excuse. They literally got rude with me that the money had been credited back to my debit card, they did it, it’s not their fault, it’s the issue of my bank, and to leave them alone. Well all along that wasn’t true. They were selling tickets knowing full well the team was already sold—-it was a disgrace! I would like to say it was true incompetence—but the fact is it was BLATANT lying about crediting back my money. It’s funny how they couldn’t do anything for a month and within an hour of me turning up the heat in the media, low and behold there was a check that magically appeared!

    I went to their corporate headquarters and it’s amazing, not a single Thrashers logo anywhere to be had. I suspect it’s been that way for a long time—-it was simply the Hawks. Did you know that the main suspect’s driving goal to buy this franchise was he was desperate to purchase an NBA franchise and tried to buy Memphis? There’s a lot you clearly don’t know—-but we do, and that’s why WE are the ones that are outraged over this total failure, their inabilities to do the right thing may have truly ruined professional hockey ever coming back to Atlanta not because it can’t work, but because the media doesn’t know the truth and people follow the media.

    Brad Lyons
    Atlanta, GA

    • iceincayman - Mar 9, 2012 at 8:05 PM

      Brad has hit the nail on the head. There are several reasons for the lack of fan support for the Thrashers. I’ll hit on a couple of subjects:

      A) Transplants (aka snow birds). There are more people living in Atlanta than who were originally born there. It is the smelting pot of the south. It’s a fact.
      I’d be hard pressed to remember a time when at a game played against, let’s say, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Boston or Chicago that Atlanta had a fan base that out numbered those opposing teams. Buffalo comes to mind as well. A while back, I lived in Buffalo for a year and went to all games that the Thrashers were there. At most, I counted as many as 7 Thrasher fans at HSBC Arena. Go to a Thrasher game at Phillips Arena against Buffalo and it’s a pretty even count. (Let’s face it, more people from Buffalo live in Atlanta than the other way around.

      B) Ticket costs. I was mired in a fog of believing that the best seats always meant the best time. Unfortunately that cost me a lot of money and I’m quite sure that the others who purchased ‘behind the glass’ tickets got the same reward. (Unless you were with a few friends, it was pretty much boring – depending on the game’s circumstances.) – I had more fun in the 400 sections of the arena than I did being behind the glass. To prove my point, I caught a puck 4 rows back of the glass because there were business men in the row in front of me (yes wearing suits), an empty seat to the side of me and a mother holding a baby two rows behind the glass among other things. It was easy pickin’s for the puck. (A memory I will always cherish!)

      Now, onto the topic at hand. THE ASG! Never mind hockey, it is the greatest dysfunctional business in the HISTORY of sports. After several years of dysfunction, one would gather that the ‘brass’ would be encouraged by lack of fan support to rid the team of mishaps in the hierarchy. However, this was not the case with the ASG. They continued to support the general manager Don Waddell who CLEARLY FROM DAY 1 was not the right person for the job. This should have been proven evident after the first round draft pick of our first season; Patrick Stefan. Let’s talk about the entire ’99 pick on another forum. Don Waddell was ultimately the worst GM of all time in the NHL. The ASG didn’t care. All they were concerned with was the ongoing feud between themselves and the Joe Johnson debate with the Hawks.

      The ASG AND it’s failure to fire the GM after several miserable years and who is now a scout for the Pittsburgh Penguins is the ultimate reason for the demise and departure of the Atlanta Thrashers. – watch out Penguin fans.
      Don fired good coach after good coach for reasons unbeknownst to us all.
      They should all be made to do community service for the 10 years that they ruined the reputation of hockey in Atlanta and the south.
      Correct me if I’m wrong, but Florida is currently in first place in the SE.
      My name is Al Lovinggood. I live in the Cayman Islands, born and raised in Atlanta and have to face so many Canadian friends telling me that we should have never had a franchise. My reply to them…uh… “1993, so shut it.”

  6. bradlyons75 - Jul 19, 2011 at 7:04 AM

    I forgot to mention to those that don’t believe hockey belongs in warm weather states or should only be in Canada—- let me remind you that without expansion, hockey wouldn’t be what it is today. Furthermore the last time a team from Canada won the cup was Montreal in 1993—-since then there have been (4) warm-weather teams to win:

    CAROLINA (which is only a 3-hour drive from Atlanta and they have a HUGE following)
    ANAHEIM
    DALLAS
    TAMPA BAY

    Although they’ve only seen recent playoff success, NASHVILLE is also a hockey town and has been for awhile. Atlanta has several ice and roller hockey rinks and a wealth of youth hockey programs. Hockey is far bigger than most realize in Nashville.

    I am writing a letter to Mark Cuban—-begging him to buy a team here. It’s a long-shot, but it doesn’t hurt to ask :-)

    • iceincayman - Mar 9, 2012 at 8:05 PM

      Ya wanna know what’s funny? Mark Cuban has a house here in Cayman.

  7. bigdawg1954 - Jul 19, 2011 at 4:34 PM

    There are a lot of ‘narrow-minded’ hockey fans who think that hockey doesn’t belong in the south, because those places didn’t have a hockey history or tradition. They believe that they are not being biased but that they are just stating the facts. if that was the case, then try telling those same people that, soccer, baseball and golf don’t belong in Canada because there is no history or tradition for those sports, and you’d be run out of town, and labelled an arrogant American. Those same people originally thought that the NHL should only have six teams.

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