The Philadelphia Wings, whose tenure from 1986 until now was the longest for a team in one city in the National Lacrosse League, are no more. In a press release sent out at prime news hours (2pm on a Friday in July, when no one is focused on the weekend at all), the Wings announced that the “Ownership of the Philadelphia Wings … plan to re-locate the franchise for the 2015 season.” The release continues to say that they are “in discussions with a new strategic partner for re-location,” which has not been announced yet. Tickets purchased for the 2015 season will be refunded.
Owner and Team President Michael French said “the financial model in a market with so many sport and entertainment alternatives has proven to be unsustainable. Finding a new venue with new strategic partners was the only way to ensure financial stability.” The Wings, until this announcement, played their home games in the Wells Fargo Center, and before that in the Spectrum. The cost to rent the Wells Fargo, along with the near impossible task of filling it, certainly wouldn’t have helped the Wings, and the Wings will now join the other former Spectrum tenants that have either moved or ceased to exist (the Kixx, the Bulldogs, the Fever, and the Philadelphia Phantoms).
Regardless of their non-major status, the Wings won six championships in their 28-year existence (four in the MILL and two in the newer NLL), and that’s worth celebrating. Just a little bit though, let’s not get carried away. According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, the 2014 Wings season featured a 10% drop in attendance and the team ranked eighth (out of nine teams) with an average of 6,864 fans a game. That works out to less than 39% of the seats being filled if you’re using the arena’s smallest seating configuration.