The Quad City Mallards have announced that they will withdraw their ECHL membership, a move that takes effect after the conclusion of the 2017-18 season.
On Tuesday, Mallards owner Jordan Melville confirmed that the club is ceasing operations once the current season ends. Though the Mallards inked a three-year extension with the ECHL back in December, they have had several major personnel changes over the past 14 months.
The club’s financial outlook was ultimately a major factor in the decision to withdraw ECHL membership. Despite a reported boost in corporate sales numbers this season, the Mallards did not believe that their current financial picture made it viable to continue ECHL play beyond the current season. More from The Quad-City Times:
Melville estimates he will lose close to $1 million this season and figures he’s lost at least $4 million since he bought the team.
Although corporate sales were up this season, Melville said they weren’t where they needed to be after five years of work.
“The benefits to the community for sponsoring the team, obviously the business community didn’t see that it was there,” Melville said. “We were about half of where we should have been compared to the rest of the league in terms of corporate sponsor dollars.
“From a business decision, we looked at how much we’ve been able to move these numbers around and how much we had to continue to move them. At some point, you’ve got to say it isn’t going to happen.”
“This was an extraordinarily difficult decision to reach and one that I arrived at only after lengthy deliberation and a lot of soul searching,” Melville said in a team-issued statement. “In the end it became clear I would no longer be able to make the financial commitment required for the team to continue and that, as hard as it was to reach this conclusion, the time has come to cease operations.”
The departure of the Mallards may not necessarily mean the end of professional hockey at the team’s home, the TaxSlayer Center. Arena officials are showing a willingness to bring another hockey team into the fold, though an immediate return to the ECHL does not appear to be a possibility. According to The Quad-City Times, ECHL commissioner Brian McKenna indicated that the absolute earliest a Quad City team could begin ECHL play would be for the 2019-20 season.
As for the ECHL, the Mallards’ decision to withdraw their membership is not the only major change that will affect the league’s 2018-19 slate. The ECHL has also approved expansion membership for a team in St. John’s, while the Maine Mariners are set to being play next season at Portland’s Cross Insurance Arena.