(JACKSONVILLE, Fla.) - The Jacksonville Barracudas have requested a one-year suspension from the SPHL citing difficulties in finding an affordable venue.
Steve and Janet Croskrey, majority owners of the Barracudas, say the team's office has been closed. Team President and General Manager Gilles Richard will continue to look for potential investors and explore venues to support pro-hockey in the North Florida area. Richard expressed hope that the Barracudas would skate again.
The Barracudas called the 16,000-seat Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena home for three seasons, at which time the lease agreement with the facility expired. The proposed lease renewal included increased costs that made it impossible for the Barracudas to continue play there.
In an effort to keep professional hockey alive in Jacksonville, the Barracudas moved to the 1,200-seat Jacksonville Ice for the 2007-08 season. The fan support at Jacksonville Ice was strong, and the Barracudas experienced continued on-ice success, finishing 2nd overall during the regular season and making their second consecutive appearance in the SPHL Finals. However, the limited streams of revenue in the tiny recreational facility made it infeasible for the Barracudas to renew their lease.
There was plenty of success for the Barracudas over the course of the past two seasons. Rick Allain won the SPHL's Coach of the Year honors for the 2007-08 season, while the SPHL's First Team All-Stars featured two Barracudas players.
The SPHL will operate for the time being with six teams.