Mere months after making the A-League’s Eastern Conference finals, the Syracuse Salty Dogs have suspended operations and will not field a side in 2005.
Despite strong attendance numbers in the two years of the team’s existence that topped 6,000 per season, Syracuse’s backing was unwilling to continue with what they considered substantial losses on the financial ledger sheet.
A report in the Syracuse Post-Standard had the consortium’s debt around $300,000 and growing. This is the third franchise to leave the A-League in quick succession, after Calgary and Edmonton announced they would not continue playing next season as well.
Unable to attract enough capital into the team (the Dogs shared PNC Stadium with a Triple-A baseball team), the owners have withdrawn their franchise rights. While there is a chance a last-moment white knight could save the team, efforts seem to be pointed towards reviving the club for a 2006 restart if an investor or investors can be found.
“We’re disappointed, but we’re encouraged in a few ways,” said A-League vice President Tim Holt to the newspaper. “The Salty Dogs achieved success on the field, and this is absolutely a market that pro soccer can work in.”
Syracuse chief operating office Doug Spolyar said the investors had “gone as far as they can go” monetarily, while general manager Tommy Tanner and head coach Laurie Calloway were not surprised with the decision.
The team’s $1.2 million budget is high, especially in the A-League. A talented squad was built by Calloway, especially in 2004. Now those players must find a place to ply their trade, and while Major League Soccer is rising by two teams the A-League may endure further cuts. Whispered rumors of trouble surrounding the Milwaukee Wave United have been heard as well. However, two current and relatively healthy A-League clubs – Montreal and Virginia Beach – folded prior to their present success.