When new, local ownership purchased the ECHL's Trenton Devils in the summer of 2011, they pledged to turn around a once-proud franchise that had been turned into a laughing stock by its Newark-based owners. They changed the name back to the Titans, a moniker they had held for eight seasons before being purchased by the Devils, they re-affiliated with the Flyers and attendance skyrocketed.
It was apparently all smoke and mirrors though, and four months after the team ceased operations, they owe a lot of people a lot of money. NBC10 has part of the story in a report that aired on Tuesday morning.
If you can't watch the video, here are the basics: Fans put deposits down on season tickets for the 2013-14 season and they're not getting that money back. The team promised in July that they'd reimburse within 90 days, but fans don't seem too hopeful about that. It's easy to understand their skepticism.
Unless the team had absolutely no idea what their own books looked like, it seems they took those season ticket deposits with at least some knowledge that they were going to fold -- they closed up shop on April 23, less than a month after they solicited season ticket sales on March 31. It's all pretty fishy.
The fans aren't the only ones getting screwed. NJ.com shines light on how charities and local groups aren't getting the money they were promised either. Former coach Vince Williams and other team employees are owed substantial amounts of cash, too. When it all adds up, the Titans owe any number of parties at least several hundred thousand dollars, based on reports.
Blue Line Sports, the group run by Trenton-area couple John and Eileen Martinson, sold the team after that first 2011-12 season to Delaware Valley Sports Group, headed by team president Rich Lisk and three investors: Jim O'Connor, Jim Cook and Tim Curran.
Lisk, who served as the team's general manager and was previously GM of the AFL's Philadelphia Soul, runs a Trenton business called Small Change Marketing Group. Literally THE SAME DAY that that team announced they were folding, Lisk published a press release on SCMG's website touting the success of the Titans, "an SCMG client." It's laughable, really.
Small Change Marketing Group's (SCMG) client, the Trenton Titans Hockey Team showed strong growth for a second year in a row. Significant strides were made in attendance and partnership dollars.
In 2011, SCMG was hired to revive the fledgling Trenton hockey team. While the 2011-2012 season marked a 21% Increase in attendance over the previous year representing the largest increase of any team in the 20-team ECHL, the 2012-2013 season boasted an additional increase of 10%. (See link below) Not since 2006 has the Trenton Franchise averaged over 3,360 fans per night.
Again, this was THE SAME EXACT DAY the team officially announced they were folding, and a day AFTER that news was first reported by the media. SCMG's list of clients -- at least, according to SCMG -- includes four other unsuccessful minor league sports teams plus the Titans, two others that still actually exist, and surprisingly, former Flyer James van Riemsdyk.
There's no phone number listed for Lisk and he didn't immediately respond to an email, but hopefully he gets back to us. We can't find any information on Cook, O'Connor or Curran.
Some Titans fans have started up a Facebook group called the "Trenton Titan Refund Club," but one post on that group claims that the Philadelphia Flyers are responsible for refunds ... which is certainly extremely misinformed because the Flyers had no ownership stake in the Titans.
This whole thing feels like a mess, but hopefully those owned thousands of dollars eventually get it back. If you're a frustrated Titans fan who wants to be heard, shoot us an email or let us know below in the comments.