It's official: Mustangs fold
The Rochester Mustangs made it official this morning. The team will not operate here next season.
In a fax from the United States Hockey League office, the notice said the team will be "rendered inactive" for the 2002-2003 season.
The league said the move was prompted by the USHL's proposed move to Tier I status next season.
"The decision was obviously very difficult for us, considering the history and tradition of the Rochester Mustangs," said co-owner Tom Tegt.
USHL commissioner Gino Gasparini said the move was unfortunate, but necessary.
"Obviously any time you have a member of your league close down operations, let alone have two teams (the Tulsa Crude also is out), it presents concerns," Gasparini said.
Gasparini said to operate properly in the USHL at the proposed Tier I level, teams have to have the support from the community in all areas, especially attendance.
USHL bylaws state that the players on the Rochester roster will be part of a dispersal draft that is set for April 17. The USHL will operate as an 11-team league next season.
The Mustangs, in order to participate in the Tier I move, would have to average 2,000 fans a game, or show that they could reach that attendance. The team averaged less than 500 fans a game this past season. The owners, who also own the Lincoln Stars, got permission to move 10 home games to the opponents' home sites, meaning the team had to play on the road much of the season, where winning is difficult. Tier I teams would not be allowed to move home games.
Rumors of the team's demise have circulated for the past several years.