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Sears Centre loses another sports client: the Chicago Shamrox
By Tom Quinlan | Daily Herald Staff

The Chicago Shamrox canceled its coming season due to the recession, owners say.

 

George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

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Published: 12/12/2008 4:50 PM | Updated: 12/12/2008 5:37 PM

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The Chicago Shamrox team suspended its indoor lacrosse operations for the 2009 season on Friday afternoon, just 15 days before it was scheduled to open its third season at the Sears Centre.

In another swift move, its players were dispersed by the National Lacrosse League a few hours before the official announcement was made by the Hoffman Estates franchise to cease operations.

Team officials, who have been seeking local ownership since last season, said the economic recession was responsible for the inability to attract new ownership. According to a statement released by the NLL, the Shamrox owners "cited deterioration in the general economy and depressed market conditions" as reasons for shutting down.

Kevin Loughery Jr. and Donald Salle haved headed the ownership group, which included former NBA coach Kevin Loughery Sr. and Doug Shaer. The franchise is still for sale, but its players are gone.

"Like many of our loyal fans, I am disappointed with the decision to suspend operations for the 2009 season," Chicago Shamrox President Phil Ryan said in a statement. "I would like to thank all those that supported the Shamrox these past two years. Professional indoor lacrosse is a great sport and Chicago deserves to have a team. I hope we get a chance to do it again."

A dispersal draft was held at noon Friday and players of the Chicago Shamrox were drafted by the remaining clubs in the 12-team NLL, which will continue to operate.

The Shamrox had already held an exhibition match this month and were preparing to open their third regular season on Dec. 27. Last season the club had a full 23-man roster. With a full coaching staff and seven full-time employees in the front office, more than 30 employees are now out of work.

Fans who have purchased tickets for the season should contact the Shamrox at (877) SHAMROX.

The decision leaves the Sears Centre with two sports teams on its schedule. The Chicago Storm indoor soccer team is preparing to open its home season on Dec. 20, and the Continental Indoor Football League has yet to release its 2009 schedule for the Chicago Slaughter next spring.

"We're disappointed they've decided to fold," said Sears Centre executive director Jeff Bowen. "They were a good team with a lot of good players, but they decided they couldn't wait (for new ownership)."

Bowen said the Sears Centre will be looking for more concerts and other events to fill the spots, although it is possible some afternoon games on the Storm schedule may shift to evening games now that those dates are available.

Two years ago, the Chicago Hounds hockey franchise of the UHL folded after one season at the Sears Centre.

According to a report by Jac Coyne of Lacrosse Magazine online, the Shamrox finished next to last in NLL attendance in 2006 (6,025 per game) and in 2007 (4,964). The team finish 6-10 in both seasons.

The Chicago Machine, a Major League Lacrosse outdoor team that plays at Toyota Park, is not affiliated with the Shamrox.